Tag:Jason Bay
Posted on: September 1, 2011 9:42 am
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Pepper: Plenty of good seats available

Dodger Stadium

By C. Trent Rosecrans
 

Los Angeles Times columnist Bill Plaschke went to Wednesday afternoon's Dodgers-Padres game and talked to all six fans in section 314. Six. The announced crowd was 27,767 -- but there were actually fewer than 8,000, Plaschke estimated and may have been the smallest crowd in Dodger Stadium history. 

Every time I've been to Dodger Stadium it's been full and rocking -- this tells you as much as you need to know about how LA fans feel about Frank McCourt.

On the market: But the McCourts did sell one of their two homes near the Playboy Mansion, so there's that. It was the smaller of the two houses in Holmby Hills going for "just" $6.14 million. [Los Angeles Times]

Click here: Really nice work by the Detroit News illustrating just how quickly a Justin Verlander fastball gets on a batter. Check it out.

No sympathy: White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire is one of his closest friends in the game, but he's not exactly feeling sorry for him -- "No, because I've seen him celebrating a lot with a lot of champagne over his body when I've watch him [over the years]," he told reporters (MLB.com). "Get them next year, Gardy."

Jays scouting Darvish: Toronto general manager Alex Anthopoulos was in Japan on Wednesday scouting right-hander Yu Darvish. The Rangers and Yankees have also scouted him in person, while the Nationals, Orioles, Red Sox and Rays also have reportedly been interested in Darvish. [Toronto Sun]

Theo happy in Boston: Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein made his first remarks about his name being thrown around in talks about the open Cubs job -- he said he's "really happy to be with the Red Sox." He didn't elaborate much or deny any interest in the Cubs job, but why should he? Leverage is a good thing and there's no reason for Epstein to give that up. [WEEI.com]

Beane leading Cubs' wish list: Cubs owner Tom Ricketts was in San Francisco on Wednesday, while A's general manager Billy Beane was at home in the Bay Area and his team was in Cleveland -- coincidence? [Chicago Sun-Times

Rooftops expected: For the first time in a decade, all the Wrigley rooftops around the Cubs' home park have been inspected by city health officials. [Chicago Tribune]

Measuring power: An interesting article on FanGraphs.com asking the best way to measure power -- because what exactly are we talking about when we talk about power? It's more than just homers, but shouldn't homers count more? Anyway, the result is a stat called wXB -- or weighted extra bases. However, the problem with this is that are triples really a measure of power? You're not going to find anyone who says Dexter Fowler has more power than David Ortiz, but you wouldn't be surprised to learn Fowler has more triples than Ortiz.

Strasmas returns: Not that it's any surprise, but ticket prices have gone through the roof for the Stephen Strasburg's "Strasurrection" start on Sept. 6. [Washington Post]

Cards want to extend Berkman: The Houston Chronicle's Richard Justice told a St. Louis radio station that the Cardinals approached Lance Berkman about a contract extension in July and the 35-year-old "very much wants to stay" in St. Louis. However, the fact he didn't sign an extension implies Berkman will at least test the free agent waters. [NBC Sports]

Phillies doomed: The Phillies are a favorite for the World Series this season, but enjoy it now, Phillies fans. Grantland.com's Rany Jazayerli writes that the team isn't built for the long haul, as the team is saddled with bloated contracts and aging players. A really interesting read.

Moose is loose: Royals rookie Mike Moustakas has found his groove. After starting his career hitting .182, he's raised his average to .232 with a 14-game hitting streak. [MLB.com]

Movie time for A's: Several A's say they're curious to see Moneyball when it premiers later this month. [Baseball Prospectus]

Bay to center? Could the Mets move Jason Bay to center field in 2012? That's one of the things the team is considering, even though it seems like it would certainly weaken the team's outfield defense. But hey, the guy is owed a ton of money, so he'd have to be put somewhere. The move would also allow Daniel Murphy's bat to get in the lineup in left, with Lucas Duda in right. Of course, Murphy wasn't able to play left in 2009, so I'm not exactly sure why he would be able to now. [New York Daily News]

Pujols teases fan: A good friend of mine can't stand Albert Pujols -- when 60 Minutes did the feature about all his charitable work, my friend wasn't impressed. He once had a to do a story on Pujols, who blew him off. He went back the next day, and Pujols was a jerk to him again. So I'm guessing he'll like this story about Pujols taunting a Brewer fan. [Big League Stew]

Quentin's return uncertain: White Sox outfielder Carlos Quentin is eligible to come off the disabled list on Monday, but he said he's unsure if he'll be ready to play by then. He went on the disabled list for a sprained AC joint in his left shoulder Saturday, but hadn't played since Aug. 20. [Chicago Tribune]

Uehara's option vests: When Rangers reliever Koji Uehara appeared in his 55th game of the season on Wednesday, his $4 million option for 2012 vested. [MLBTradeRumors.com]

More Garfoose: Not to overload you with Dirk Hayhurst stuff, but some might find this interesting -- the recently released pitcher is auctioning off some of his game-used gear for charity. [DirkHayhurst.com]

40th anniversary: On Sept. 1, 1971, the Pittsburgh Pirates became the first team in Major League history to field an all-minority lineup, with Dock Ellis taking the mound. [The Hardball Times]

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: July 27, 2011 8:48 pm
Edited on: July 28, 2011 1:25 am
 

Holliday deal part of best trade deadline deals

By Evan Brunell

As the trade deadline kicks into gear, teams who consider themselves buyers -- much like the Cardinals in acquiring Edwin Jackson and relievers, but sending away young center fielder Colby Rasmus -- are hoping that years from now, those teams will land on articles detailing moves that worked out at the trade deadline.

This is one such article looking back at the three previous years and the deadline deals that occurred. Which of these deals ended up being fantastic ones for teams? Looking strictly at those who were "buyers" -- that is, they went after the best player in the deal or made a trade clearly geared toward winning, let's take a look at the top five in reverse order.

Sanchez5. FREDDY GOT FINGERED

July 29, 2009: Pirates trade 2B Freddy Sanchez to Giants for minor league RHP Tim Alderson.

The Giants were seven games out of first place, but leading the wild card when they added second baseman Freddy Sanchez from Pittsburgh. Sanchez was supposed help settle the Giants' offense en route to a playoff berth. "A kid that has distinguished himself as an All-Star three out of the last four years and a batting champ within that time frame," GM Brian Sabean told the Associated Press at the time of the trade. The timing's great."

Unfortunately for Sabean, Sanchez has neither been an All-Star or batting champion since, but this trade still comes away as a win. That's because Sanchez wasn't acquired with just 2009 in mind, as he limped to the finish line with his new team that season. Battling a leg injury, Sanchez appeared in only 25 games, hitting .284/.295/.324. But in 2010, Sanchez hit .292/.342/.397 as an important part of the team, which would eventually win the World Series that October.

This deal was actually considered a loss for San Francisco at the time, as they coughed up Tim Alderson, then ranked the No. 4 prospect in the Giants organization by Baseball America. But declining velocity took all the luster off of the lefty, who is 22 years old and attempting to reinvent himself as a reliever for Double-A and won't reach the majors unless something changes.

4. BACK TO ATLANTA

July 31, 2009: Red Sox trade 1B Adam LaRoche to Braves for 1B Casey Kotchman.

LaRocheMark Teixeira's replacement in Casey Kotchman wasn't bearing fruit, so the Braves gave up and shipped Kotchman north for Adam LaRoche, who came up with Atlanta and spent three years with the team before being dealt to Pittsburgh in the offseason prior to 2007. At just one game over .500, the Braves were looking for an offensive punch that could get them into the wild card and division mix.

It worked, as the Braves finished the season 10 games over .500, but they still fell short of the playoffs, despite LaRoche's patented second-half surge aiding the team with 12 home runs in 242 plate appearances, hitting .325/.401/.557. That's fantastic production with a cost in only Kotchman, who was traded after the season to Seattle for Bill Hall and hit .217/.280/.336 in full-time duty. Kotchman has rebounded this season in Tampa Bay with a .328 batting average as the club's starting first baseman, but Atlanta's happy with rookie first baseman Freddie Freeman.

3. IT'S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA

July 29, 2009: Indians trade LHP Cliff Lee and OF Ben Francisco to Phillies for minor league RHP Jason Knapp, RHP Carlos Carrasco, SS Jason Donald and C Lou Marson.

LeeThis ended up being a fantastic deal for the Phillies. While the players Philadelphia coughed up have either not yet started their major-league careers or have just started -- making full evaluation of the deal impossible -- we can try. Let's go in order, starting with Knapp. What made him so highly regarded is obvious when he steps on a mound, but that's not often. He briefly pitched for the Indians following the trade, then checked in with just 28 2/3 innings all of last season and has yet to pitch this year after undergoing his second major shoulder surgery since being acquired. He could still end up an ace, but it doesn't look good.

Carrasco has developed into a solid middle-rotation starter for Cleveland. That's all well and good but Philly doesn't lack for prospects and while Carrasco has value, he's not going to make the deal worth it all by himself. It'll be up to Donald and Marson. Donald hit .253/.312/.378 in 325 plate appearances for the Indians last season and is the man with the lone hit in Armando Galarraga's not-perfect game. He's toiling in the minors and isn't much more than a backup infielder, while Marson isn't much more than a backup catcher, hitting .208/.279/.296 in 424 PA over the last two seasons in that capacity.

So the Phillies benefit by giving up a package that, so far, isn't much for an ace like Lee. The left-hander would go on to post a 3.39 ERA in 79 1/2 innings for Philadelphia, giving the club an ace it desperately needed to defend their 2008 World Series title. Philly didn't do that against the Yankees (although Lee did win the only two games Philadelphia came away with in the series), but they did capture a second straight NL pennant and established Philadelphia as a big-market team that would be around for a while.

And of course, while Lee's stay in Philadelphia would be brief as he was moved to Seattle in the offseason to make way for Roy Halladay, Lee's time in Philly was so good that he returned to town as a free agent, taking less years to get back in the City of Brotherly Love. (And we haven't even mentioned Francisco, who has continued his fine career as a fourth outfielder in Philly, although he stumbled this season when handed more playing time.)

2. MANNYWOOD

RamirezJuly 31, 2008: Red Sox trade LF Manny Ramirez to Dodgers, with 3B Andy LaRoche and minor league RHP Bryan Morris going to the Pirates in a three-team trade.


Manny Ramirez wore his welcome out in Boston so badly, the Red Sox would have given anything to get rid of ManRam. They ended up walking away with Jason Bay in a three-team deal, sending Ramirez to Los Angeles. (The full details: Morris and LaRoche to the Pirates along with Boston's RHP Craig Hansen and OF Brandon Moss.) The Red Sox ended up pleased with their investment, giving up essentially nothing. But the Dodgers had the bigger coup, as LaRoche was a colossal bust in Pittsburgh and is now in the farm system of Oakland. Morris is now 24 and has an outside chance of making the majors.

But Manny was all the rage in Los Angeles for the rest of the year back in 2008, hitting an unconscionable .396/.489/.743 with 17 home runs in 53 games. Even Jose Bautista can only aspire to these levels. Ramirez took a .500 team to the division title and boasted a .520 batting average in October as the Dodgers fell to the Phillies, who would eventually win the World Series. He hit well enough in 2009 for Los Angeles at .290/.418/.531 in 431 PA, but was suspended 50 games for violating baseball's drug program. A year later, Ramirez was no longer the toast of town and quickly forced his way out to the White Sox. Still, Ramirez helped revive the Dodgers, if only for a brief period of time before Frank McCourt would do Manny one better in demoralizing Dodger fans.

1. A HOLLIDAY IN ST. LOUIS

HollidayJuly 24, 2009: Athletics trade LF Matt Holliday to Cardinals for minor league 3B Brett Wallace, OF Shane Patterson and RHP Clayton Mortensen.

This is the fourth 2009 deal on this list. It was certainly a good time to be a buyer back then, as the Cardinals well know. They picked up a slugger for ... well, nothing special. Holliday had been acquired from the Rockies in the offseason by Oakland, who offered up (gulp) Carlos Gonzalez, Huston Street and Greg Smith. They didn't get anywhere close the return for Holliday after he failed to produce in Oakland's cavernous stadium. Wallace was supposed to be a good hitting prospect -- his luster had yet to dim. But it did in the next two years, with Wallace being flipped to Toronto after the season, the Jays then immediately sending him to Houston. Opening the year as the starting first baseman for Houston, Wallace has hit .275/.352/.382 and just lost his starting spot.

Mortensen was a fleeting -- and failing -- pitcher in Oakland before being traded for next to nothing to Colorado and has been a solid swingman this season but is currently in Triple-A. Peterson was just promoted to Triple-A and has a shot to develop into ... well, something. But that's a very weak return for a man who has paired with Albert Pujols for a devastating 3-4 punch. He was so overjoyed to be back in the NL that he hit .352 the rest of the way, and is at .320/.400/.549 after inking a contract extension. That's even better than his Colorado numbers, so this was a masterstroke for St. Louis. Odd to say that on a day where the Cardinals did the opposite of a masterstroke by dealing Colby Rasmus to Toronto.

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Posted on: July 3, 2011 11:30 pm
 

3 Up, 3 Down: Bay plays hero

Jason Bay

By C. Trent Rosecrans
 

Jason Bay, Mets: At one point someone on TV said, "Jason Bay's the Mets' last hope," and I thought to myself, that's the most ominous statement I've heard in a long time. Well, Bay proved me wrong. He walked in the ninth against Mariano Rivera and went on to score the game-tying run on Rony Paulino pinch-hit single off of Rivera. The next inning he singled with two outs and bases loaded to give the Mets a 3-2 victory over the Yankees.

Blake Beavan, Mariners: In his big-league debut, Beavan allowed three hits and a run in seven innings. The right-hander was acquired by the Mariners in last year's Cliff Lee deal and was called up to replace Erik Bedard, who went on the 15-day DL earlier this week. A control specialist, Beavan threw 64 strikes and 26 balls. 

Melky Cabrera, Royals: Cabrera was one of two Royals to finish a triple shy of the cycle in Kansas City's 16-8 victory over the Rockies. Cabrera finished with two homers and five RBIs. Eric Hosmer drove in four with four hits, including two singles. Kansas City had 12 extra-base hits in the win.


Cliff Lee, Phillies: He's not going to appear here much, but he certainly deserves to be in this slot following Sunday's game. Not only was his scoreless innings streak stopped at 34 in the third inning, he gave up four runs on three homers in the eighth inning, allowing 10 hits and seven runs in 7 1/3 innings in a loss to the Blue Jays

Ramiro Pena, Yankees: Filling in not only for Derek Jeter, but also Eduardo Nunez, Pena committed two errors in the last two innings, including a crucial error in the 10th inning that extended the inning for Bay. Pena's ninth-inning error nearly ended the game, but Brett Gardner and Russell Martin made great plays to nail Lucas Duda at the plate and send the game to the 10th. In the 10th, Pena bobbled a ball hit by Daniel Murphy with two on and two out, loading the bases for Bay. The good news is Jeter returns Monday.

Elvis Andrus, Rangers: With two outs in the eighth inning and Texas holding on to a 2-1 lead, Andrus booted a ball by Hanley Ramirez, allowing the tying run to score. Logan Morris followed with a two-run double and Mike Stanton added an RBI single. Florida went on to win, 6-4. Andrus' 16 errors is tied with Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro for second-most in baseball, with Baltimore third baseman Mark Reynolds leading the way with 19.

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Posted on: June 11, 2011 12:44 pm
Edited on: June 11, 2011 7:03 pm
 

On Deck: Garza/Lee showdown, Pirates see Bay

OD

By Evan Brunell


LeeGarzaPITCHING SHOWDOWN:
One of the 4 p.m. games that we'll be chatting about pits two of the better pitchers going up against each other in Matt Garza and Cliff Lee. Both pitchers are less than impressive when you look at win-loss record (and hopefully the only ones that care about that mark at this point are fantasy baseball players with wins as a category) with Garza checking in at 2-5 for the bumbling Cubs while the Phillies are trying to hang onto first with a 5-5 mark from Cliff Lee. Garza's 4.07 ERA is a major disservice, as his 2.58 xFIP and 10.71 K/9 numbers indicate. Garza is pitching better than he ever has in Tampa, but you wouldn't know it from ERA. Lee, meanwhile, has a similar disparity between ERA and xFIP with a 3.62 ERA and 2.51 xFIP. This is actually a marquee pitching matchup -- you just wouldn't know it on first blush. Cubs at Phillies, 4:10 p.m. ET (Watch live)

RedsGiantsSCUFFLING LEADERS:
The Reds are in danger of slipping to .500 if they lose on Saturday to the Giants and are already five games behind the Cardinals  and now have the Brewers making noise, too. The Reds are too good to let this recent funk last, but the Giants have their own problems. Still in first place up by two games, San Francisco has a lousy offense that has been compounded by injury troubles. The club appears to be on the verge of signing Bill Hall to step in at second base after Freddy Sanchez went down, but he probably won't be on deck for Saturday when Mike Leake, seeking his sixth victory, goes up against Tim Lincecum, also chasing his sixth victory. The similarities end there, as Lincecum is a two-time Cy Young Award winner with a 2.85 ERA while Leake has a 4.63 ERA and was demoted to the minors earlier this season. Reds at Giants, 4:10 p.m. ET (Watch live)

BayCHASE FOR .500: A team going after a .500 record isn't really of interest to the regular fan, sure, but .500 would be a moral victory for the clubs of the Pirates (who haven't reached that mark in 18 years) and Mets (what isn't wrong with the team?). Pittsburgh is just two away from the mark while New York's win will put them at .500 for the first time since May 20. R.A. Dickey, the erstwhile knuckleballer, will toe the mound for New York  while Pittsburgh counters with James McDonald. If the Pirates want to turn their fortunes around, they might want to muster more than singles, as there have been zero extra-base hits by the team in the last two games. Saturday is also a milestone in Pittsburgh of some sort, as the team will finally play against Jason Bay (pictured) at PNC Park for the first time since the slugger was traded to Boston midway through 2008. Mets at Pirates, 7:05 p.m. ET (Watch live)

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Posted on: June 10, 2011 9:35 am
Edited on: June 10, 2011 2:57 pm
 

Pepper: Bautista's 'slump'


By Matt Snyder


BASEBALL TODAY: What does the managerial change in Oakland mean? What can you expect from Carlos Zambrano tonight? Danny Knobler joins Lauren Shehadi to discuss those topics and even the NBA Finals on Baseball Today. Click on the video above to check it out.

WORRY ABOUT BAUTISTA? Talk about something I didn't expect to read. Jose Bautista's in a slump. He hasn't hit a home run in -- gasp! -- 11 games. He's 12 for his last 38 (.316). I guess that counts as a slump, considering what he was doing to the baseball before the homer drought.

"I didn't expect to continue to be doing what I was doing the whole season. That would have been pretty hard. I'm working on getting back to where I was." (Sportsnet.ca)

He was amazing and is still compiling an amazing season. He still leads the majors in runs, home runs, walks, average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage and OPS. He's still on pace for 51 home runs. I think I'd need a stretch worse than 12 for 38 before I started to worry.

HITTING STREAK ALERT: I guess it's about time to start paying attention, because Hunter Pence of the Astros has a 20-game hitting streak.

EXTRA EXTRAS: Having to stay up and make sure every game is over before going to bed, I thought maybe it only seemed like a ton of extra-inning games this season and I just never noticed before. I was wrong. There have now been 111 extra-inning games so far this season, which is the most ever at this point in the season. At this pace, the 2011 season will shatter the record. (Bob Nightengale via Twitter) I guess it's another sign of league-wide parity, but I feel like the low-scoring games helps, too.

BAY'S DAYS OFF: Mets outfielder Jason Bay is getting two days off to work on his swing. (MLB.com) It's hard to blame manager Terry Collins, because the Mets should be trying just about anything at this point. Bay hasn't had a hit in 23 at-bats. He's hitting .207 with a dreadful .279 slugging percentage in 164 plate appearances.

"It's a very difficult thing to do," Collins said. "He's proud. He's a pro. He's a star player. And when you're struggling, it's difficult."

Bay is in the second year of a four-year, $66 million contract, so he's not tradeable and the Mets are stuck with him for two seasons after this one. That's why they'll continue to try anything to get him going. In 2009, before the Mets signed him, Bay hit 36 home runs and had 119 RBI for the Red Sox.

In a possibly related tidbit, Adam Dunn sat out two games this week for the White Sox and then homered in his return to the lineup Thursday night.

MAGIC OPERATION: Joba Chamberlain's Dad believes that Tommy John surgery will restore Joba to dominance. “Pitching as well as he has with the ailment, I can only, from a positive perspective, look at it being repaired — and you’re talking about ’07 again,” Harlan Chamberlain said (NYTimes.com). I guess if Joba's been hurt the whole time since then and mishandled along the way -- with the switching between starting and relieving -- it's possible. He wasn't all bad this season before the injury (2.83 ERA, 1.05 WHIP). But that '07 season, man, was he lights out. He threw 24 innings and allowed just 12 hits and one earned run against 34 strikeouts.

MAYBIN BACK MONDAY: Padres center fielder Cameron Maybin is on the disabled list with an inflamed knee, but will go on a rehab assignment this weekend with Triple-A Tuscon. If everything goes well, he'll be back in the Padres' lineup at Colorado Monday. (Follow The Padres)

LOPEZ TO FISH: Talk about a fall from grace. Former All-Star Jose Lopez has been signed to join the New Orleans Zephyrs in Triple-A (Zephyrs Twitter) -- the Marlins' affiliate -- at age 27. He was recently cut by the Rockies after hitting .208 with two home runs and a .233 on-base percentage in 129 plate appearances. Feels like a low-risk signing in hopes of catching lightning in a bottle. In a best-case scenario, Lopez starts hitting like it's 2009, and provides an offensive upgrade at second (and maybe even third, if Greg Dobbs starts hitting like he did in '09-'10). At least until prospect Matt Dominguez is ready.

RENTERIA'S RING: Edgar Renteria finally got his World Series ring Thursday evening, as he returned to AT&T Park as a member of the visiting Reds. He was reportedly emotional and said his Game 5 home run "is still with [him] every day." I'm guessing it's with Giants fans, too, and will be forever. (Extra Baggs)

ROUGH DEBUT: Dodgers prospect Jerry Sands was demoted to Triple-A last night after his first stint in the majors. It didn't go very well, as Sands hit .200 with two home runs, 17 RBI, 10 doubles and a .622 OPS. The good news is he's still only 23. There's plenty of time to get things figured out in the minors, regain confidence and come back to hit the ball well. His promotion may have been a bit quick, as he'd only logged 10 Triple-A games.

WHITHER FIGGY: Chone Figgins has completely fallen apart since joining the Mariners as a free agent after the 2009 season. Fangraphs takes a look at some similar declines in recent years.

RECKLESS TWEETING: The Nationals selected Zach Houchins in the 15th round of the draft this past week. Apparently they either didn't get a look at his Twitter account -- which has since been deleted -- or don't mind some of the bigoted remarks he made. For Love of the Nationals has a few screen grabs. I will never, ever understand how people can be so stupid with Twitter and Facebook. You've got to think things through before sending something that virtually anyone can see.

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

Posted on: June 6, 2011 10:12 am
Edited on: June 6, 2011 10:35 am
 

Pepper: No baseball in November



Can Zack Greinke continue to lead the Brewers? What is going on with Cliff Lee? How important is Josh Hamilton to the Rangers? Scott Miller joins Lauren Shehadi with the answers.

By Evan Brunell


NO BASEBALL IN NOVEMBER
: As baseball tries to expand the postseason to one additional Wild Card series, the question has always been how that can be pulled off without pushing the postseason into November, which both fans and players dislike. Angels manager Mike Scioscia feels the postseason can be limited to just October and accommodate an expansion without eating into the 162-game season.

Scioscia, who is part of a special committee for on-field matters and has input into the expansion of the playoffs, feels that by tightening up travel time and playing the occasional doubleheader, an extra series can be fitted in easily. In regards to travel, Scioscia points to his own team's upcoming trip from L.A. to Seattle, New York, Florida and back to Los Angeles as inefficient because of two off days during the trip.

"I don't know what kindergartner figured that one out, but I think maybe we can move to first grade and get that a little better organized," Scioscia said. "The bottom line is we need to be more efficient with travel."

Scioscia believes teams should play in the division for the bulk of April, July and September, which will cut down on travel, as well as schedule the occasional double-header. If baseball can trim the postseason by a few days as well, the World Series would be complete by the time Halloween rolls around.

"We can't have baseball played in November," Scioscia said. "I don't think the Pilgrims set it up that way." (Los Angeles Times)

SLEEPLESS IN CHICAGO
: Cubs manager Mike Quade admitted after Albert Pujols' 12th inning walk-off home run on Saturday that he needs to do a better job communicating with his pitcher and catcher on what to do in these type of situations. Clearly, he's got some more work to do as Pujols repeated his walk-off home run heroics in the 10th inning Sunday. (MLB.com)

DEAD BALL
: The Phillies won Sunday's game 7-3, but that doesn't mask what was a missed opportunity to score an extra run for Philadelphia. Through no fault of the team, Domonic Brown's single hit the umpire at second base and was immediately ruled a dead ball. There were runners on first and third, but Ryan Howard, on third, was not allowed to advance. The bases were loaded for Wilson Valdez, who grounded into an inning-ending double play. Just overall a weird play and a weird result -- you'd think Howard would be able to score on that play. (MLB.com)

EJECTED
: Jason Marquis was ejected from the game Sunday after plunking Justin Upton for the fourth time in the four-game series. Both Marquis and manager Jim Riggleman were adamant that the HBP was not intentional after two Nationals got hit in the inning previous. You can believe that, as the game was currently 1-0 and Upton represented the go-ahead run on base. (MLB.com)

HARPER DOWN
: Touted Nationals prospect Bryce Harper was hit by a pitch on the left knee in the first inning, and had to leave the game after needing to hobble to the dugout. Good news, though: It appears to be just a bone bruise, so he should be back in the lineup before long. (Washington Post)

ZIMMERMAN REHABBING: In that same game in which Harper was struck by a pitch, third baseman Ryan Zimmerman began his comeback trail by going 2-for-2 with a walk. Zim had an ab tear way back on April 9 and is only just getting back into the fold. It's unclear when Zimmerman will return to Washington, but mid-June looks like a good bet. (MLB.com)

VERLANDER THE BEST? Jim Leyland's been around, so he's got plenty of first-hand experience on which pitcher has been the best to ever pitch for Leyland. The long-time skipper says Verlander has the best stuff of any pitcher he's seen without question, although he still calls Doug Drabek the best pitcher, as Verlander is still learning how to pitch. (MLB.com)

PERFECT IN TRIPLE-A
: Mike Minor has made two spot starts for the Braves due to Brandon Beachy's injury, but was shipped back to Triple-A as the club did not need a fifth starter for a while. Minor showed Atlanta he should be considered for the next spot start after taking a perfect game into the seventh and finishing up with a one-hitter through eight. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

TIME TO WAIT: Many in the game seemed to feel as if Brett Lawrie would be called up to Toronto last Friday. That changed when he was hit by a pitch, and that bruise has landed him on the seven-day DL although it was backdated to the point where he will only miss two games. Once Lawrie's pain subsides, he's expected to make his major-league debut. (MLB.com)

HITTING HINDERED: Luke Scott's torn labrum is affecting his hitting, he finally admitted on Sunday. Scott is hitting just .224 this year with six home runs and received a cortisone shot in the hopes that clears up the pain. For now, he's still avoiding any talk about surgery. (MASN)

BELTRAN BRUISED: Carlos Beltran has had a strong season so far, crushing a league-leading 19 doubles and playing in 57 of a possible 59 games. On Sunday, he had to leave the game with a bruise after fouling a ball off his right leg, but is considered day-to-day. (New York Times)

BACKSTOP HEALING: Nick Hundley bashed a home run in his rehab start on Sunday, proving his strained oblique has healed nicely. If he comes through his rehab assignment with no setbacks, he could be back in San Diego by Wednesday. (MLB.com)

MENTAL BREAKS: Jason Bay (New York Times) and Alex Rios (MLB.com) are both receiving mental breaks as both players are scuffling. Rios has been letting his frustrating seep out, so manager Ozzie Guillen feels as if Rios could benefit from a few days off. Bay, who has struggled mightily, will be back in the lineup when the team plays again Tuesday.

BATTING AROUND: Curious how many teams have batted around in the order during the first inning without recording an out? Well, the last time that happened was in 2006 when the Indians terrorized K.C. for seven runs before registering their first out, needing 10 hitters to do so. (Baseball Reference)

NEW JOB? Ozzie Guillen's on the hot seat in Chicago, so his job mixing drinks for a charity event could prove a harbinger of his future job. OK, not really. (White Sox Twitter)

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Posted on: May 14, 2011 4:27 pm
 

Jason Bay could see time in center field

Bay

By Evan Brunell


Jason Bay... center fielder?

That's a possibility as manager Terry Collins noted Saturday, as he wants to get 22-year-old Fernando Martinez in the lineup here and there before Angel Pagan returns from the disabled list.

"[Bay] would do it in a second," Collins told ESPN New York. "There's a possibility of that happening. I don't know when that's going to be, but I think we certainly need to consider a move like that once in a while just to get [Martinez] into games."

Martinez has been ripping the ball at Triple-A and could be Carlos Beltran's permanent replacement in the outfield. The Mets wanted him getting regular at-bats in the minors and were forced to recall Martinez when Ike Davis went down with an injury. However, Collins wants to avoid using Martinez in center, the position he has played 231 out of 342 outfield games down the farm. F-Mart has an arthritic knee, that age age 22, is already comparable to Beltran's and Collins wants to avoid as much wear and tear as possible, given the bright future he has in New York.

"At his age, he's got a similar leg to what Carlos has got," Collins said. "It's not that you worry about him pulling a muscle or something. It's just the wear and tear causes this guy to miss time. We want to try to avoid that if we can. ... There's no question he's going to have to deal with it his whole career. There's nothing you can do anymore. I mean, the wonders of modern medicine certainly might come up with something soon to relieve the issues of the arthritis that has set in there at a young age. But he's just going to have to deal with some discomfort, as Carlos does on a daily basis."

As a result, that pretty much leaves Bay as the only option to play center if Martinez is to play in a game, unless one of Bay or Beltran is benched, like the latter is Saturday with an eye issue. Martinez is in right field as a result, with Scott Hairston in center. Problem: Bay is defensively challenged, only has 37 career games in center and hasn't played there since 2005. It's not exactly a great idea, but the Mets don't have many alternatives at the moment.

One alternative -- even though that would be just one game -- is Carlos Beltran. Collins had previously said Beltran would not play any other outfield position other than right, but appears to be rethinking that as long as it was one game.

"Again, I think it's unfair. He's very, very comfortable right now in right field," Collins said. "I think the fact that he's out there [in right field] is what's kept him in the lineup this much. I talk to this guy every day. So if that's what we think is the best move, I know one thing: Carlos Beltran will be open to anything he can to do to help this club. He's done it so far. He won't change now."

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Posted on: May 9, 2011 8:43 pm
Edited on: May 9, 2011 9:03 pm
 

Pirates reach .500, eye bright future

Pirates

By Evan Brunell

The Pittsburgh Pirates finishing .500? There's a whole generation of baseball fans that don't understand that concept, but that's exactly where the Bucs find themselves at just over one month into the season.

Now 17-17, Pittsburgh will look to go one game over .500 as they face the Dodgers Monday night. If it can pull that off, it will be the first time since May 29, 2004 that the club was over .500 this late in a season. Unfortunately, 2004's squad finished with 89 losses and the ensuing years saw an even worse decline, so that statistic doesn't mean that the club has made any type of progress.

But when you look at 2004's club against 2011's, it's clear that progress has been made.

Back then, the Pirates weren't as young a club, although many were still under 30 years of age. Some ended up with good seasons, with a 26-year-old Jack Wilson slashing .308/.335/.459 with 41 doubles, which remains his best year to date. Craig Wilson at age 27 cranked 29 homers but never again approached these levels and was out of baseball after 2007. Most of the other hitters with one notable exception in Jason Bay have gone on to vanish or barely cling to relevancy (Jason Kendall and Ty Wigginton).

The pitching side of the ledger had a fantastic year by Oliver Perez and Kris Benson's solid 20-start stint prior to being traded to the Mets hide what was a poor staff that was shored up by a strong bullpen. All told, while the team was relatively young, it was only as good as it was thanks to the performances of five players, four of which never approached 2004 levels again.

It's a different story in 2011, with a much younger club. That's not reflected in the average age of the squads as 2011's 27.9 average age is higher than 2004's 27.45, but the Pirates boast a yonger core with the potential to be among the game's best. The bullpen has been effective to start the year  and the rotation is deeper than 2004's counterparts. That may come as an oddity when Kevin Correia is the ace of the club, but it's no less true. Offensively, Pedro Alvarez, Andrew McCutchen, Jose Tabata and Neil Walker form a quartet that 2004's club can't hold a candle to.

For the Pirates to sustain their newfound dominance, however, they have to step up their prospect procurement. This is a team that is thin on pitching and saw that partly addressed in last season's draft with the selections of Jameson Taillon and Stetson Allie, but still has an overall farm that Baseball America ranked 19th last season, largely due to the graduations of the offensive core. Compare that to 2004's ranking of 11, topped by Zach Duke and a host of other pitchers that failed to ascend.

It's no wonder that the 2004 club dipped to 89 losses, and as promising as 2011's club is, Pittsburgh will have to look ahead toward next year as a more realistic chance of breaking the streak of futility. It is difficult to envision Correia continuing to pitch to a 2.91 ERA, and as interesting as Charlie Morton's progress is, a regression has to be expected until (and if) he fixes his control problems, which he took a step forward in doing so in his last start by allowing only one free pass. And while James McDonald can be counted on to improve, it'll be balanced out by Jeff Karstens's probable regression.

For Pittsburgh to have any hope at finishing at .500, it will come from an offense ranked 22nd in runs scored so far. The entire infield plus Tabata and McCutchen are off to quite a slow start. Their expected improvement could offset pitching regression, but the other issue at play is Pittsburgh's division counterparts. Now that Milwaukee has its top three starting pitchers healthy and contributing, so their 14-20 record will turn around in a hurry and that's bad news for the Pirates given the imbalanced schedule that pits Pittsburgh against its NL compatriots for the majority of the games. Thus, even if the offensive regrouping does offset the pitching, it's difficult to envision a .500 record being sustained, especially once injuries hit the pitching staff; the club has virtually no pitching to speak of in Triple-A which is a flaw that will get exposed at some point.

Still, the improvement in the Steel City has to lend a certain amount of optimism to its long-suffering fans, who would glady take any type of improvement even if it it's not an 81-81 record. While even 1997 and 1998's 83 loss-seasons look out of reach, the Pirates appear poised to post the franchise's best record since 2004, and could even go beyond. That will set up quite the storyline for next year, when the Pirates look to avoid 20 straight seasons of finishing under .500.

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PHOTO: Steve Pearce, No. 51 of the Pittsburgh Pirates, celebrates with teammate Neil Walker, No. 18, after Ryan Doumit, No. 41, hit a three-run home run against the Houston Astros during the game on May 8, 2011 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

 
 
 
 
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