Tag:Hideki Matsui
Posted on: September 30, 2011 5:18 pm
Edited on: September 30, 2011 6:32 pm
 

R.I.P.: 2011 Oakland Athletics

By Matt Snyder

Another season gone, another disappointment for 29 teams as one is immortalized forever. Let’s take a look back at 2011 and forward in Eye on Baseball’s R.I.P. series...

Team name: Oakland Athletics
Record: 74-88, 22 games back in AL West
Manager: Bob Melvin
Best hitter: Josh Willingham -- .246/.322/.477, 29 HR, 98 RBI, 69 R, 26 2B
Best pitcher: Gio Gonzalez -- 16-12, 3.12 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 197 K, 202 IP

With injuries to the pitching staff, more lack of offense, the most exciting thing happening for the A's this season came at the box office, not the ballpark. But hey, I rather enjoyed "Moneyball" -- I'd only advise going to the movie with the understanding that Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder, Barry Zito, Miguel Tejada and Eric Chavez were completely ignored. If you know that going it, it's enjoyable.

2011 SEASON RECAP

They started off losing four of their first five, but didn't give up by any stretch. In fact, the A's were 22-20 and tied for first place in the AL West on May 17. Then a seven-game losing streak sunk them and a week later they began a season-killing 10-game losing streak that cost Bob Geren his job. Bob Melvin took over and went 47-52 the rest of the way. Considering how bad the offense was and that both Dallas Braden and Brett Anderson were lost for the season, that's pretty fine work and general manager Billy Beane agreed -- giving Melvin a three-year deal.

The A's finished 12th in the AL in runs scored. They don't even get on base anymore, as the .311 OBP was also good for 12th in the AL. Meanwhile the staff ERA was the third best in the AL. So it's the same old story in Oakland. They can pitch, but not hit.

2012 AUDIT

If Brett Anderson and Dallas Braden come back strong from injuries, the A's have a very solid 1-5 rotation. Trevor Cahill will need a bounce-back season, but Gonzalez and McCarthy figure to be similar to this season. Full seasons out of Joey Devine and Andrew Bailey will make the bullpen better as well. But they were already good at pitching, as the numbers show. And they're still young enough to count on the staff being good for the next several years. So, just as it has the past several seasons, everything is going to boil down to what the A's can muster on offense. Young Jemile Weeks showed he's ready to take over at second base, but many other young players still haven't shown they can be consistent offensive threats at the big-league level. There's promise with the Chris Carter/Brandon Allen/Michael Taylor group and some prospects are getting closer to joining the fray. The 2012 season will not be a complete rebuild as much as it will be preparing for 2013.

FREE AGENTS

David DeJesus, OF
Josh Willingham, OF
Coco Crisp, OF
Hideki Matsui, DH
Rich Harden, SP
Brandon McCarthy, SP

OFFSEASON FOCUS

The A's have to focus entirely on the offense and should probably make an effort to get younger instead of throwing out a group of veteran cast-offs. Sure, the "Moneyball" movie had the "island of misfit toys" line, but remember, they ignored the strong foundation of youth in place. We can't do that in real life.
  • Let Harden walk and spend the money on offense. Guillermo Moscoso and the five starters mentioned in the Audit section above give the A's enough rotation depth, not to mention if Tyson Ross can return healthy. Really, let's include the bullpen here. The pitching is fine. Bring back McCarthy and otherwise there's no reason for players outside the organization to even be considered.
  • Carter has been awful against major-league pitching, but it's only been in small samples with no consistent at-bats. At some point they need to leave him in the lineup for an extended stretch to find out if he's a "quadruple-A" player or not. Likewise, they might as well stick with Allen and Taylor, too, and just go with a youth movement offensively. Between first base, right field and DH, at least two of these three should be in the lineup everyday, in different combinations. 
  • Shortstop prospect Grant Green is going to be ready for a look soon. He hit .291/.343/.408 in Double-A. Cliff Pennington will hold down the fort in the meantime.
  • With Hideki Matsui likely to be retained, there is very little reason for the A's to bother with David DeJesus. They need to see what Taylor and Carter can do. When Matsui needs the occasional off day, you have all three young sluggers in there. 
  • I would bring Willingham back. He and Matsui can provide veteran stability to the middle of the order so that there isn't any extra pressure put on the younger guys. 
  • If anyone from outside the organization is brought in, it needs to be an on-base guy. They tried to go with patchwork quasi-power hitters and didn't work. You can't score runs if you aren't getting on base, so it's time Beane's A's go back to their roots.
  • How long until Michael Choice is ready? The A's 2010 first rounder was in High-A this season, but he hit 30 home runs with a .918 OPS. Better yet, he's a center fielder, which they'll need soon. Maybe bring back Crisp for one more season to bridge the gap?
If everything breaks right, the A's could be a serious AL West contender in 2013. The pitching staff is young and good. The offense could very well be respectable again with proper development from Weeks, Taylor, Choice, Green, Allen and Carter to go with Kurt Suzuki as a future nucleus. Plugging in veterans would only hinder the youngsters.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 28, 2011 9:17 pm
Edited on: September 29, 2011 2:07 am
 

Signs point toward Matsui's return to Oakland

Hideki MatsuiBy C. Trent Rosecrans

In news that will make millions in Japan happy, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports the A's are likely to re-sign designated hitter Hideki Matsui, meaning the season-opening series between Oakland and Seattle in Tokyo will feature the country's two favorite exports.

Earlier Wednesday, Major League Baseball announced the season-opening series at the Tokyo Dome against the A's and Mariners. Ichiro Suzuki is under contract with the Mariners for next season, and both Matsui and the A's are interested the 37-year-old returning to Oakland for 2012.

"He's the one free agent we'd seriously consider for a number of reasons," an A's official told Slusser.

Matsui made $4.25 million this season and would likely cost less in 2012. Slusser suggest he could sign for $2 million, making a mid-season DFA wouldn't hurt the A's bottom line. Although he hit just .252/.322/.377 with 12 home runs and 72 RBI, he did play better after Bob Melvin took over, hitting .298/.356/.429 with six homers in the second half of the season. He also is a good presence in the clubhouse and brings in more money for the team in Japanese sponsorships and increased merchandise sales in Japan.

It's tough to overstate Matsui's popularity in Japan. Although Suzuki is the bigger star in the U.S., Matsui has been a folk hero since his high school days and then played for the country's most popular team, the Yomiuri Giants. He hit 332 home runs while in Japan and won three MVPs. He also led his team to three Japan Series titles and his standing was elevated even more when he became a member of the Yankees.

The return of Ichiro to Japan was sure to be a big deal for those two games in Tokyo, but the addition of Matsui will make it even more exciting -- and lucrative.

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Posted on: August 15, 2011 10:21 am
 

Pepper: Gordon wants to stay in Kansas City

Gordon
By Evan Brunell

STAY OR GO:
Alex Gordon's had a long, tough road in Kansas City. He arrived in town with expectations of being the next George Brett, and struggled to reach those expectations while adjusting to the major leagues. For a few years there, the third baseman was looking like a colossal bust, but he switched to left field and broke out this year at age 27 and has had a fantastic year leading off.

Gordon isn't a free agent until after 2013, but is already eager to sign a long-term extension to stay a Royal.

“Staying here?” Gordon told the Kansas City Star. “Heck, yeah. I love it here. I love the guys here. I love being close to home. I love the fans. I love everything about this place.”

Gordon noted that the team and GM Dayton Moore has already indicated they want to wait until after the season to discuss a long-term deal. Making just $1.4 million, that number is sure to rise, if not double, through arbitration. The Royals may want to wait another season to see if Gordon's newfound production is real, even if it's at the risk of a spiking salary through arbitration. There's no real rush here -- Kansas City's payroll started the year under $40 million after cracking $70 million the last few years. With that kind of flexibility at hand and no massive contracts due anytime soon, the Royals may want to exercise their flexibility to gauge Gordon for another season.

Working in Gordon's favor is that he's ready to help immediately and can be a linchpin of the team's transition to a young crop, which doesn't include a deep outfield. Lorenzo Cain appears ready to take over center field and Wil Myers is developing nicely in the outfield after transitioning from catcher and should be in the majors within a year or two, but that's about it. K.C. drafted outfielder Bubba Starling, who has yet to sign, but even if he does, his outlook is so far away it shouldn't have any impact on Gordon's possibilities to stick with Kansas City.

WAIVER WIRE
: A development on the waiver wire is that left-handed relievers are having a heck of a time clearing waivers, which is no big surprise when you consider that the big dogs of the Red Sox, Yankees, Phillies and other contenders are on the hunt for such help. (Boston Globe)

REHABBING A-ROD: Alex Rodriguez participated in a simulated game on Thursday, taking 13 at-bats and playing three innings in the field. He's currently slated to return to the Yankees on Thursday. (New York Post)

PLAY OR SIT: Magglio Ordonez's time as a productive hitter is winding to an end, and he's mired in a deep slump thus far in August, dragging his batting average to .223. Manager Jim Leyland isn't ready to sit Ordonez entirely, but did admit that he will pick and choose which pitchers Ordonez will face. (Detroit Free Press)

NEW MINDSET
: Carlos Pena may not be around to see it, but he knows what his club needs to do to move on -- adopt a new mindset, freeing the Cubs from the same old malaise. “It’s just viewing ourselves in a different light, wearing the uniform with pride, just all those personal things that (should be) ingrained in us,” Pena told CSNChicago.com.

BACK IN OAKLAND: Athletics manager Bob Melvin says if he returns to manage the team in 2012, he wants DH Hideki Matsui back. That's easy to say, when Matsui has been scorching hot since the All-Star break, but it's instructive to note that even with the hot streak, Matsui's overall line is .264/.338/.408. (San Francisco Chronicle)

CARD WARS: Topps and Leaf are embroiled in a legal battle over baseball cards, as Leaf is using Topps baseball cards to promote a new line of cards from Leaf. If you buy a "2011 Best of Baseball" set from Leaf, you receive one new, original Leaf card as well as a bonus card, which is turning out to be iconic Topps cards. (TMZ.com)

BAUER POWER? Jason Marquis is out for an extended period of time after fracturing his shin in Sunday's start. There's speculation that Trevor Bauer, who was drafted this past June, could potentially replace Marquis. (Arizona Republic)

CLEARED: Royals catcher Matt Treanor has passed the last hurdle in his recovery from a concussion and can now return to game action. A rehab stint in the minors is likely. (Kansas City Star)

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: August 9, 2011 3:07 pm
 

Hot streak could have Matsui on the move

Matsui

By Evan Brunell

When the trade deadline closed on July 31, the focus immediately turned toward which players could be traded by August 31 through the waiver system, fronted by closer Heath Bell of the Padres.

Nowhere was the name Hideki Matsui mentioned, which was for obvious reasons. Here was a 37-year-old on his third team in three years, the free-agent market so poor he had to accept a job with the Athletics and ply his trade in the cavernous O.co Coliseum (yes, it really is named that). To no one's surprise, his aging bat and park limited him to a .209/.290/.327 line through July 10 in 302 plate appearances. At that point, his trade value was nil, and even a .466/.515/.724 in the 16 days running up to the deadline weren't enough to send him packing.

Except Matsui has continued to hit. Since the All-Star Game, Matsui is scorching hot, racking up a .451/.495/.720 line in 93 plate appearances, and it's time to sit up and take notice. Matsui is now a prime candidate to be dealt in August, especially if he keeps up the production. Given his poor season to date, teams may opt to wait until closer to Aug. 31 before jumping on Matsui, but suitors will be there, including the Yankees.

New York is where Godzilla plied his trade for seven years before departing after 2009. The Yankees recently benched Jorge Posada and are moving forward with an Andruw Jones - Eric Chavez platoon, with Posada getting the occasional start. Matsui's fit in New York isn't entirely clear as the team plans on calling up top prospect Jesus Montero to give DH a try once they evaluate the Jones/Chavez combo. But it's no sure thing that Montero can impress before Aug. 31. If he doesn't start off with a bang, you can easily see GM Brian Cashman calling Oakland and asking about Matsui, who won't fetch an exorbitant price due to his age and the limited timeframe of his hot streak. Even Cashman, who is evermore adamant about hanging onto his prospects, will be willing to give up a midlevel prospect to inject some more thump for the postseason.

Surprisingly, the Yankees may be Matsui's only chance of getting out of Oakland, unless a NL team was interested in his pinch-hitting capabilities or was willing to live with the Japanese import's defense in left field, which is possible. But for a starting job, Matsui is essentially limited to DH. And therein lies the problem.

Despite only three AL teams recording average production out of the DH spot, the Yankees remain Matsui's best -- if not only -- bet. These three teams' DHs total at least 2 Wins Above Replacement (WAR). That figure is representative an average full-time player, so there are 11 teams that are getting substandard production. Those that are not are the Rangers, Red Sox and Twins. That leaves the Yankees, Tigers, Indians, White Sox, Angels and Rays with hopes of the postseason and yet substandard DH production -- but no obvious fits.

The Twins and Indians won't be interested now that Jim Thome and Travis Hafner, respectively, are back from the DL, The White Sox are stuck with Adam Dunn, while the Tigers are pleased with rotating Victor Martinez and Magglio Ordonez through the DH spot. The Rays are pretty distant in the wild-card chase, so it's unlikely they strike for Matsui. That leaves the Angels, Matsui's former employer -- but Bobby Abreu occupies the DH spot, and there's no real interest in Los Angeles for shifting Abreu back to left, moving Vernon Wells to center and taking youngster Peter Bourjos, one of the team's few bright spots, out of the lineup. Of these teams, the White Sox are the best bet as they can simply sit Adam Dunn (which they are currently doing) in favor of Matsui, but it's still a long shot.

While any of these teams could take a different direction and grab Matsui, the odds are low. If it isn't the Yankees, Matsui may have to finish out his year in Oakland or on the bench in the NL. Only a truly desperate team at this point would consider Matsui for left field -- but all it takes is one desperate team for a deal to come together.

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Posted on: August 7, 2011 3:34 pm
 

Ex-Yankees batboy writes tell-all book

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Former Yankees batboy Luis Castillo was the last of the team's batboys to not have to sign a confidentiality agreement, so he's spilling the beans in a new memoir, Clubhouse Confidential.

The New York Post has some of the highlights from the book:

Alex Rodriguez was "high-maintenance": "A-Rod irritated the other players because he was so high-maintenance. He required his personal assistant to position his toothbrush on a certain part of the sink, specifically the edge near the right-hand cold water tap, leaning with bristles up over the basin. The first time he ordered me to do this, I couldn't believe my ears when he said, 'And put some toothpaste on it.'"

A-Rod brags about his homers: "A-Rod was different in another, childish way that made players laugh behind his back. When you watch games at home you sometimes see players come into the dugout after they hit a home run. If you've ever wondered what they're saying, it's usually things like 'Way to go!' or 'Good job!' Not A-Rod. After he hits a home run, he comes into the dugout and brags about it. Usually he's speaking Spanish to one of the other Latino players, and if he hit a home run he wouldn't shut up. 'Wow, did you see I hit a home run?' he'd say. 'That pitcher threw me a ball right over the plate and I smashed it over the fence. Did you ever see anything like that before?'"

Jeter had a mildly profane greeting for all the clubbies: "But this greeting wasn't meant to annoy anyone; on the contrary, it was intended to be a funny way to start our workday together. There's no question in my mind that Jeter's easygoing personality traits -- the way he joked, teased and bonded with players -- were something extra, almost in contrast to the aggressive fielding that fans had come to expect."

Hideki Matsui had a rather different rally cry before Game 7 of the 2004 ALCS loss to the Red Sox: "at the end of the meeting it was traditional for Joe Torre to ask Jorge Posada what we were going to do. He would reply, "Grind it!" This time -- I guess to make Hideki Matsui feel more part of the team -- Torre turned to him at the end of the meeting. 'What are we going to do?' Hideki paused for just a second before replying. 'Kick ass. Pop champagne. And get some ho's.'

Castillo also has more on how Jeter picked up women, a then-married A-Rod had several ladies on the side and Joe Torre's penchant for the ponies.

The code of baseball frowns upon airing dirty laundry in public, but if you can get one-on-one with a clubhouse attendant -- or clubbie in baseball parlance -- you'll hear some of the best stories about baseball you'll ever hope to hear. Castillo will never work in baseball again, but I'm sure he'll get some cash out of his book, which comes out Aug. 16. I've got to admit, I'm looking forward to it and will certainly read it, even though it's not exactly a revelation that Jeter's good with the ladies, A-Rod's kind of a jerk and Matsui is amusing.

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Posted on: July 21, 2011 9:18 am
Edited on: July 21, 2011 9:33 am
 

Pepper: Matsui hits No. 500

Hideki Matsui

By C. Trent Rosecrans


You may have missed it last night, but Hideki Matsui hit his 168th home run of his Major League Baseball career. Why's that meaningful? Well, in addition to his 332 homers for the Yomiuri Giants in Japan, he has 500 in his professional career.

Sure, 500 combined isn't the same as 500 in MLB, but it's still a cool accomplishment. Sadaharu Oh, who hit 868 home runs, was impressed by the accomplishment.

"To keep hitting home runs during a tough schedule while maintaining your conditioning is not easy," Oh told the Associated Press.

Matsui was less impressed. "It isn't like I've been aiming for this, because I don't really combine numbers from Japan and here. To me, they are two separate leagues," he told the AP.

And he's right, there are differences. The ballparks in Japan are smaller, the ball is slightly different, the pitchers are different and the season is shorter. But still, 500 is a lot of home runs, even if you're in Little League. He was never quite the same feared power hitter here that he was in Japan, but he did produce for many years and has been a good big leaguer, adjusting his game to his new surroundings. 

I lived in Japan when he first came up, and the hype he received is like nothing I've seen in the United States -- I'd say it's more like if Bryce Harper were a Yankee. That's how famous he was even in high school in Japan, where the high school baseball tournament is covered like the NCAA basketball tournament here. 

The 500 mark has been achieved by 25 in MLB and eight in Japan -- and just one, Matsui, has done it combined between the two.

KOTCHMAN QUALIFIED: It's been easy to miss, but Rays first baseman Casey Kotchman is having a heck of a season. He needed four plate appearances Wednesday to qualify for the batting title. Kotchman not only got his four appearances, he picked up three hits, raising his batting average to .337, which is second in the American League to Boston's Adrian Gonzalez (.343). [Tampa Tribune]

UNHAPPY DAYS IN CHICAGO: It's been a severely disappointing season in Chicago, and both managers are none too happy with their teams. White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen had some choice words for his team after a loss to Bruce Chen and the Royals [Chicago Tribune]; Cubs manager Mike Quade targeted his ire on two young players, Starlin Castro and Darwin Barney. [Chicago Sun-Times]. 

STRONG COFFEY: Nats reliever Todd Coffey wasn't too happy about allowing a run in Tuesday night's game and reacted by throwing a water cooler -- nearly drenching Jerry Hairston. Let that be a lesson kids, another reason to wear high socks -- your pants don't get wet if Coffey spills on you. [Washington Post]

SWEET MUSIC: The New York Times music critic writes about the beautiful sounds of a ballpark. Listen to the sweet sound of summer. Maybe they should make it a MP3 so I can listen to it when there's snow on the ground.

JETER FATIGUE: Sick of hearing about Derek Jeter? Well, there's a browser tool for that. If you're using Google's Chrome, you can download the Jeter Filter to avoid all those pesky references to the Captain. Too bad this wasn't around a week or so ago (I kid, I kid). [Big League Stew]

CHAVEZ REVINE IS SAFE: The group that owns the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles says that it is not interested in building a downtown baseball stadium, contrary to earlier reports. "It's not even an idea. It simply doesn't work," AEG president Tim Leiweke told ESPNLosAngeles.com.

CLOSER IN WAITING?: If Florida trades Leo Nunez, it's like Edward Mujica will get the nod as the team's closer. You fantasy baseball folk may want to remember that and get in on him early. [Miami Herald]

SORIANO CLOSE: Yankees setup man Rafael Soriano made his first rehab appearance Tuesday, allowing two runs on two hits in 1 1/3 innings at Class A Tampa. Yankees manager Joe Girardi said he didn't know yet how he'd use Soriano upon his return. [New York Daily News]

DARVISH WATCH: One of the big names we'll be sick of hearing come January or so is Japanese import Yu Darvish. The Angels, Yankees and Mets were among the teams that watched his last start. [YakyuBaka.com]

NO MO NO-NO: Monday the Royals' Luis Mendoza of the Royals' Triple-A team in Omaha threw a no-hitter and the next night the Double-A squad in Northwest Arkansas threw a combined no-hitter. Well, Wednesday the Royals not only didn't have a no-hitter, but they had another taken away when the Pacific Coast League stripped Mendoza of his no-hitter, changing an error call to a hit -- again. Monday night outfielder David Lough of the Storm Chasers was charged with an error. Then just minutes after Mendoza celebrated his no-hitter, it was changed to a hit. And then an hour later, it was changed back to an error. And now Wednesday it was changed back to a hit. Mendoza threw a no-hitter for Triple-A Oklahoma City in 2009. [Kansas City Star]

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Posted on: June 22, 2011 9:57 am
Edited on: June 22, 2011 11:34 am
 

Pepper: No rule change needed at 1B

By C. Trent Rosecrans

BASEBALL TODAY: There may not be a more interesting division in baseball than the American League Central. While the surprising Indians lead the Tigers by a game, the White Sox and Twins linger. Can the Twins, now just 6 1/2 games out, continue to get themselves in contention? Will Jake Peavy be able to stay in the White Sox's rotation? NESN.com's Tony Lee joins our own Lauren Shehadi to discuss.

RULE CHANGE NEEDED?: And just yesterday, I was going to make a sarcastic joke that I was surprised I hadn't heard Giants fans complain about safety at first base after the Albert Pujols injury.

For weeks after Buster Posey's injury we heard long discussions about changing the rules for plays at the plate and how the catcher had to be protected. Scott Cousins was vilified and scapegoated. Well, Wilson Betemit was taken off the hook when Cardinals manager Tony La Russa put all the blame on the shoulders of rookie Pete Kozma, even though in both cases the injured player deserves much of the blame for being in a  poor position (and I'm not saying either deserved to be hurt, just that they put themselves in a bad spot and got hurt -- it happens).

Anyway, the New York Times is the first (and only that I've seen) to start up the change-the-rules-at-first-base bandwagon. My response? In a word: no.

LUDWICK ON THE MOVE?: Ryan Ludwick was moved last July from one contender to another -- from St. Louis to San Diego (in a three-team trade that brought Jake Westbrook to St. Louis); he could be on the move again.

The Phillies, Marlins and Reds have all reportedly asked about Ludwick's availability. Ludwick is hitting .255/.322/.393 with a team-high nine home runs this season, but is hitting .279/.324/.419 away from Petco Park.

The Padres could also move some of their relievers, with the Phillies and Cardinals having already checked in on the availability of Chad Qualls and Heath Bell.[FoxSports.com]

SHIPPING HANLEY?: Are the Marlins better off without Hanley Ramirez? Ramirez is in the third year of a six-year, $70 million contract that pays him $46.5 million over the next three years and does not include a no-trade clause. [Palm Beach Post]

MADDON APOLOGIZES: Joe Maddon didn't intentionally pull the wool over the eyes of umpires Monday by not having Sam Fuld face a batter after warming up in the eighth inning, it's just that Bob Davidson was behind the plate, and he didn't know the rule any better than Maddon did. Maddon apologized to the umpires and Brewers manager Ron Roenicke. [Tampa Tribune]

FAUSTO FLOUNDERING: One Ohio team has already demoted its opening-day starter to the minors, and the other team may soon be sending its opening-day starter to the bullpen if he doesn't get it together. Cleveland's Fausto Carmona is 4-9 with a 6.17 ERA in 16 starts this season and is 1-6 with a 9.73 ERA over his last seven starts. [Cleveland Plain Dealer]

ESCOBAR IMPROVING: Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar has seen his batting average rise nearly 50 points in the last two weeks, and his glove was already playing at a high level. Is the one big-league player the Royals got from the Zack Greinke trade beginning to show why the Royals thought he could be part of their next wave of talent? [Kansas City Star]

HEADED HOME?: The Hanshin Tigers are scouting Hideki Matsui and Kosuke Fukudome if either Japanese player decides to return to Japan after the season. Fukudome would be a better fit for the Tigers, who play in Japan's Central League. Like in MLB, NPB has one league with the DH (the Pacific League) and one without (the Central League). [YakyuBaka.com]

GREEN LIGHT: The Rangers' Craig Gentry is pretty fast. [Fort Worth Star-Telegram]

RESPECT: White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen sometimes goes out of his way to tweak the Cubs and Cubs fans, but not when he's talking about the other Chicago team's shortstop, Starlin Castro. Guillen calls Castro "amazing." Guillen gave some encouraging words to Castro after Monday's game, and that meant a lot to the young Cub. [Chicago Sun-Times]

TURNING 20: Nationals catcher Ivan Rodriguez celebrated the 20th anniversary of his big-league debut Monday. The 39-year-old Rodriguez has 13 Gold Gloves and an MVP since he came up as a 19-year-old with the Rangers. [MLB.com]

NICE PICK: With the Yankees in town, the Cincinnati Enquirer caught up with former Reds first-round pick Chad Mottola, who was taken with the pick before the Yankees took Derek Jeter. Mo Egger of ESPN 1530 in Cincinnati breaks down why Mottola wouldn't have played for the Reds even if they picked him. Hint, his name is Barry Larkin.

ARMS SALE: Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times looks at what the Mariners could get for Jason Vargas or Doug Fister, two guys who are having pretty decent years.

COMPELLING CAMPANA: A great story in The Tennessean about Cubs outfielder Tony Campana. As a kid in Franklin, Tenn., Campana battled Hodgkin's disease and couldn't play baseball, but was still in the dugout with his teammates, cheering them on. His coaches at the time didn't think he'd survive, much less be in the big leagues.

WORTHY CAUSE: There's a petition online to have Vin Scully call one more World Series. Scully hasn't called a World Series on TV since 1988 and is still one of the best. [Yahoo!'s Big League Stew]

CUTTER CUT: The Jays have told recently demoted Kyle Drabek to shelve his cutter for now. The team wanted him concentrating more on his fastball, but he kept going back to the cutter more than the team liked. The Jays hope he gains confidence in his fastball and lessens his reliance on the cutter. [National Post]

NO CHANGE IN POSTING: The posting system for Japanese players coming to the United States won't change, NPB Tracker passes along (since I can't read the original Sanspo report).

GOLDEN GROOMING: You may have missed the Golden Groomer Award, a monthly award given to the baseball player with the best facial hair. The last winner was Reds minor league catcher Corky Miller. [OMGReds.com]

LOGO FUN: Check out this really cool graphic of all the team's cap insignias since 1950 (including batting practice). Hat tip to the fine folks at the UniWatchBlog, which had a cool thing worth reading about spotting baseball fields from the sky.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: May 3, 2011 1:45 am
 

3 up, 3 down: Matsui says sayonara

Hideki Matsui

By C. Trent Rosecrans

3UP

Hideki Matsui, Athletics -- Matsui hit a sayonara home run (what the Japanese call the walk-off) off Texas' Darren Oliver to lead off the bottom of the 10th, giving Oakland a 5-4 victory and moving Oakland above .500 at 15-14. It was the 496th career homer for Matsui, combining his Japanese and American homers.

Mike Stanton, Marlins -- Stanton tied the game for the Marlins in the fifth inning with a solo shot and then scored the go-ahead run after leading off the eighth inning with a triple off Cardinals closer Mitchell Boggs.

Tom Gorzelanny, Nationals -- Madison Bumgarner didn't give up a hit until the fifth inning, but Gorzelanny didn't give up a run in his eight innings. He allowed just three hits in the 2-0 Nationals victory. He improved to 4-0 in his career against the Giants.

3DOWN

Brandon McCarthy, Athletics -- The A's starter didn't allow any earned runs -- but he did give up four unearned runs because of two errors. So why's he on this list? Because he committed both errors. McCarthy misplayed bunts in the second and fifth, allowing the Rangers to score twice in each inning.

Miguel Tejada, Giants -- The Nationals' only two runs of the game in their 2-0 victory over the Giants came thanks to Tejada's seventh-inning error. With two outs in the inning, he let Wilson Ramos' grounder hit off his glove. Ian Desmond followed with a single, then Michael Morse hit a bleeder that made it to center and Jerry Hairston Jr. doubled in the final run.

Chris Sale, White Sox -- With two outs in the ninth and a comfortable 6-0 lead, Sale hit Nick Markakis and gave up a two-run homer to Derrek Lee, he then gave up a single to Vladimir Guerrero and walked Luke Scott before being lifted for closer Sergio Santos. Santos was able to strike out Adam Jones to end the team's six-game losing streak, but the bullpen has been such a concern, they would have liked to not have to use Santos in that situation.

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