Tag:Jason Isringhausen
Posted on: June 27, 2011 9:54 am
Edited on: June 27, 2011 10:31 am
 

Pepper: Is the trade deadline too soon?

By C. Trent Rosecrans


BASEBALL TODAY: Are the Nationals headed in the right direction with Davey Johnson? MLB.com's Tom Bororstein joins Lauren Shihadi to discuss the Nationals, as well as the upcoming Reds-Rays series, the Indians-Diamondbacks and more.

PUSH IT BACK: In a month, we here at Eye On Baseball will be churning out rumors and speculation left and right -- who has interest in whom, which team is a buyer and which is a seller and what backup second baseman has some trade value. It's part of the baseball calendar, the last weekend of July. But is that too early?

Tim Sullivan of the San Diego Union-Tribune says it is, and I'm not sure he's wrong.

The nonwaiver trade deadline is at the two-thirds mark of the season, and that may be too soon for teams to decide just exactly what their chances are to make the best decision about folding or going all in on a postseason run.

The best reason to change it is that it forces too many teams -- especially those without a high payroll flexibility -- to give up too soon. Who wants to pay to see 25 games or so to see a team that has given up hope? Push the trade deadline back and lie to us a little longer, we like that.

NEW YORK TRADE TIME?: Could this be the year the Mets and Yankees make a big trade with each other? The two teams have only made nine trades with each other in their history. It's unlikely Jose Reyes will go across town, but Francisco Rodriguez, Carlos Beltran, Jason Isringhausen and Tim Byrdak could help the Yankees. [Wall Street Journal]

STRETCHING PINEDA: While nobody gave it any consideration when Michael Pineda broke the Mariners' camp in the rotation, it's now going to become an issue -- will the Mariners allow the rookie starter to add innings to his arm if the Mariners stick in the American League West race?

Seattle manager Eric Wedge says the team has a plan, not just for Pineda but the team's other pitchers as well, to try to limit innings, but still have his starters ready for September. The biggest thing is not limiting innings, but his game-to-game pitch count, Wedge said. [Seattle Times]

BARNEY SAYS IT GETS BETTER: Cubs rookie Darwin Barney not only participated in the "It Gets Better" project aimed at gay teens, but also said he was "honored" to ask. A cool deal for both Barney and an ever better deal for the campaign started by Cubs fan Dan Savage. The Giants have also shot a spot for the project. [Chicago Tribune]

HARANG STILL OUT: Padres starter Aaron Harang is unlikely to return from a stress fracture in his right foot until after the All-Star break. Harang leads the Padres' staff with a 7-2 record and 3.71 ERA. He's been on the DL since June 13. [San Diego Union-Tribune]

SORIA BACK: Since being reinstated as the Royals' closer, Joakim Soria hasn't allowed a run in 10 games (12 innings). He's only allowed four hits and two walks while striking out 12 and notching six saves. [Kansas City Star]

WE'RE GOING STREAKING!: Who is the streakiest team in baseball? Beyondtheboxscore.com has done the math and it's the Boston Red Sox. The least streaky? Well, that would be the consistently bad Chicago Cubs. The Cubs, amazingly enough, haven't won three games in a row all season.

JENKS BACK SOON: Red Sox reliever Bobby Jenks is expected to join the team Monday in Philadelphia and could be activated on Tuesday. [Boston Herald]

Marlins STILL WOOING BIG NAMES: Nobody expects Jack McKeon to manager the Marlins next season. Florida hired its interim manager after last season and look at how that turned out. Apparently owner Jeffrey Loria wants a big-name manager, and that's likely Bobby Valentine or Ozzie Guillen. [Palm Beach Post]

BYRD'S FACEMASK: Bringing flashbacks of Terry Steinbach, Cubs outfielder Marlon Byrd will wear a helmet with extra protection in his rehab start at Triple-A Iowa. Byrd was hit in the face last month and suffered facial fractures. [Chicago Tribune]

FINDING NIMMO: The Mets made Brandon Nimmo the first-ever first-round draft pick from the state of Wyoming. Wyoming hasn't had a first-rounder before because of its combination of low population and harsh climate. Nimmo's dad, Ron, has helped on both causes, raising his sons there and building a barn where they could hone their baseball skills year-round. [New York Post]

CHANGEUP PITCHES: The Brewers want right-hander Yovani Gallardo to throw more changeups. Gallardo is 9-4 with a 3.92 ERA this season, but is throwing the changeup just 1.6 percent of the time and none in his last two starts. The Brewers believe the pitch could help him lower his pitch counts and go deeper into games. [MLB.com]

HANLEY TO STAY AT CLEANUP: The Marlins new regime is going to continue using shortstop Hanley Ramirez as the team's cleanup hitter. Ramirez was hitting .200/.298/.295 overall when he was put in the fourth spot by new manager Jack McKeon and in five games in that spot, he's hitting .400/.429/.450 with four RBI, raising his overall line to .218/.309/.309. [Palm Beach Post]

SMALL GESTURE, BIG DEAL: Phil Rogers of the Chicago Tribune writes a really neat tale of Curt Schilling and a World War II veteran who recently passed away.

ROSE BRINGS 'EM IN: There's apparently not a whole lot going on in the greater Bristol area of Virginia and Tennessee, because Pete Rose is bringing in the fans. No, not the Hit King, but Pete Rose Jr., manager of the Bristol White Sox of the short-season Class A Appalachian League. Still, it's cool Rose is chasing his dream. If there's one thing when you look at his career path, he may not have his father's talent, but he does have his drive. [Bristol Herald Courier]

THIS IS WRONG: That's it. Just wrong. [Yahoo!'s Big League Stew]

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Posted on: April 13, 2011 12:39 pm
 

Mets could yank Parnell from eighth-inning role

By Evan Brunell

ParnellOn Monday, for the first time since 2009, Jason Isringhausen pitched in a major-league game. Wearing a Mets uniform, it was also Izzy's first time in that uniform since 1999, before he went on to have a successful career as closer for the Athletics and Cardinals.

While Isringhausen flirts with injury on every pitch, there's no denying his talent once he takes the mound and manager Terry Collins appears prepared to throw him right into the fire.

"I'm not afraid to use [Isringhausen] at any time," Collins told the New York Post. "I'm intrigued to use [him] in those big situations."

Unfortunately, using Isringhausen in big situations -- which sounds a lot like Collins is anointing him the setup man -- means someone else will be demoted to less stressful innings, and Bobby Parnell could be that guy."

The Mets shopped lightly this offseason, hoping to cobble together a bullpen that would be good enough, banking on Parnell's ascension to setting up Francisco Rodriguez. Instead, Parnell's bombed in the early going by giving up four runs in 4 1/3 innings. He's added seven punchouts but also walked three. It's still way too early, but Mets brass isn't pleased with Parnell.

"Bobby is either going to step up and do the job or we'll have to find someone else," pitching coach Dan Warthen said. "We'll go with the hot hand, which might be [Isringhausen], Pedro Beato or D.J. Carrasco. We're looking, but nobody is jumping out."

It's not just Parnell that is struggling -- the 4-6 record for New York isn't unexpected, but New York has made too many sloppy errors that have contributed to the overall sense of malaise that seems to have settled over the club. Parnell is still a big part of the future, and could easily succeed Francisco Rodriguez as closer next season. That's how intriguing his arm is, but to hear Collins tell it, Parnell has a ways to go toward accepting defeat.

"This guy has a great arm," Collins said. "He should go out there, and if he makes pitches with his good fastball, he's going to get outs. One of the things he's got to realize is, once in a while you're going to get hit."

This is a bit discouraging to hear, as failure is embedded as a part of the game. Hitters are thrilled if they get a hit three times for every 10 trips to the plate. On the flip side, pitchers -- at least, any worth their salt -- should never have trouble retiring the majority of hitters. But to hold oneself to such outlandish expectations and get frustrated over allowing hits is to fight a losing battle. Giving up hits is going to happen; more important is keeping yourself in check and making quality pitches. Parnell's already reached the majors -- that's a major accomplishment. Now he just needs to let his talent speak for itself.

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Posted on: April 4, 2011 10:01 am
Edited on: April 18, 2011 12:12 pm
 

Pepper: Closer concerns in NL Central

Brandon Lyon

By C. Trent Rosecrans

The National League Central appears to be one of the most competitive divisions in baseball, with up to four legit contenders for the crown, so every little difference is going to be magnified when it comes to the end of the season.

While we're a long way from magic numbers, but the division's closer could be cause for concern.

In the first weekend of games, NL Central closers blew four of eight save chances -- including the first three -- and had an ERA of 12.91. Only Pittsburgh's Joel Hanrahan (who is 2 for 2 on save opportunities) hasn't allowed an earned run among the division's six closers.

All six closers have had save opportunities, and half of them are save-less. Milwaukee's John Axford has allowed four earned runs and hasn't finished an inning in two appearances, allowing a walk-off three-run homer to Cincinnati's Ramon Hernandez on Thursday and allowing two hits on Sunday before being replaced.

St. Louis closer Ryan Franklin gave up a game-tying homer in an eventual opening-day loss to the Padres and Houston's Brandon Lyon allowed six hits and three runs, picking up the loss against the Phillies on Friday.

The Cubs' Carlos Marmol struck out the side on Saturday for his first save, but Sunday he walked one and allowed two hits to cough up a lead, sending the Cubs to a 5-4 loss to the Pirates (and setting up Hanrahan's second save).

And then there's Cincinnati's Francisco Cordero, who picked up a save, but didn't instill much confidence in anyone, allowing two hits and a run in Saturday's Reds victory against the Brewers.

It could be a wild ride this year in the NL Central this season, and that's just the ninth inning.

HOMETOWN BOY -- Padres manager Bud Black said part of his reason for setting his rotation as he did was to allow San Diego native Aaron Harang make the start for the Padres' home-opener at Petco Park on Tuesday.

Black said it also helped that Harang has a history of opening day starts. Harang started five consecutive opening days in Cincinnati. He is in his first season with the Padres. [San Diego Union-Tribune]

PRETTY MUCH -- Dustin Pedroia on the Rangers' sweep of the Red Sox: "They kicked our ass, that's it." [Boston Herald]

RAY OF HOPE -- On opening day, the Rays announced a long-term deal with Wade Davis. The team's No. 1 starter, David Price, said he'd be interested in a long-term deal as well.

"Everybody here knows that I feel very comfortable here with the Rays," Price told MLB.com. "And I feel like I fit in very well with this organization and how they do stuff. If it's something we're able to get done, it's definitely something I'd like to do."

TURF CALF? -- Johnny Damon said Tropicana Field's artificial surface may have contributed to his right calf tightness that forced him to be scratched from Sunday's lineup. [St. Petersburg Times]

ANGEL TOURISTS -- Howie Kendrick and Torii Hunter talk about how special the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City is to them. [Orange County Register]

BASEBALL ART -- Aubrey Huff made a diving catch in Los Angeles on Saturday and before Sunday's game, Pat Burrell, Dan Runzler and Brandon Belt taped a body outline in the outfield where Huff made his catch. Here's a picture of their art.

HALLOWED GROUND -- Volunteers cleaned up at the old Tiger Stadium and finished off with a pickup game of baseball. The Navin Field Grounds Crew will be doing this every week during the summer in Detroit, hoping to allow everyone to use the field. [Detroit Free Press]

JAPANESE HERITAGE DAY -- The best highlight of Sunday's Japanese Heritage Day in Oakland was when Ichiro Suzuki caught Kurt Suzuki's fly in right and threw out Hideki Matsui at third base. The A's and their fans also raised more than $65,000 for earthquake and tsunami victims in Japan. [San Francisco Chronicle]

HUMIDOR SECURITY -- MLB has tightened its security procedures concerning the humidor at Coors Field, an "authenticator" will keep an eye on all the baseballs from when they're taken out of the humidor to the umpire's room where they're rubbed down to the Rockies dugout, where they're kept. During the game, he'll watch the bag. [Denver Post]

CARDS OWNER CONFIDENT -- Cardinals chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. is happy with his team and confident, but added the team does have playroom flexibility of "several million dollars" if the team needs something later in the season. [St. Louis Post-Dispatch]

COPYING BAGWELL -- Astros shortstop Clint Barmes will wear a protective pad on his left batting glove when he returns to action. Barmes suffered a fractured bone in his hand late in spring training when he was hit by a pitch. Barmes said it's the exact same pad attached by velcro that former Astro Jeff Bagwell used to wear. Barmes said he wore a similar pad after breaking his hand in 2002, but will make it a permanent addition this time. [MLB.com]

VLAD THE ENIGMA -- Vladimir Guerrero has wowed us on the field for years, but not much is known about him off the field. But the Baltimore Sun's Kevin Van Valkenburg and Jeff Zrebiec have managed to write a really interesting feature on the new Oriole. For instance, before every home series, Guerrero writes down the name of all the Spanish-speaking players and coaches coming to town, and will then have his mom cook food for all the Latin players and bring it to the park. Guerrero's mom has lived with him since he was in Montreal. [Baltimore Sun]

REALLY? -- Wearing a guy's jersey to a game is one thing, but a whole uniform, catching gear and all? This Philadelphia fan was at Sunday's game wearing complete catcher's gear, a glove, mask and even taped wrists. I wonder if security allowed him through the gate with metal spikes? [Philadelphia Daily News]

OAKLAND'S 'DUMP' -- Apparently the field at the Oakland Coliseum smells like sewage. And that's not all that's wrong with the Coliseum. [San Francisco Chronicle]

GREINKE PROGRESSING -- The Brewers expect Zack Greinke to throw off the mound at some point during the team's week-long homestead starting today. Greinke still isn't expected to return this month, but throwing off the mound is the first step to determining when he can return. He played long toss and threw from 60 feet before Sunday's game in Cincinnati. [MLB.com]

BLAKE BETTER -- Casey Blake is eligible to come off the disabled list on Wednesday and hopes to be ready when he is eligible. The Dodgers are in Denver on Wednesday. [Los Angeles Times]

REWARD OFFERED -- A $10,000 reward has been offered for information leading to an arrest in the case of Dodger fans beating Giants fan Bryan Stow, 42, a Santa Cruz paramedic and father of two. Stow is currently in a medically induced coma. [Los Angeles Times]

SIGNS YOU'RE OLD -- When Jim Thome faced Blue Jays rookie Kyle Drabek on Saturday, the TV folks accidentally put up Thome's career numbers against Doug Drabek, Kyle's father. [UniWatch Blog]

IZZY SHELVED -- Jason Isringhausen, attempting a comeback with the Mets, left an extended spring training game on Saturday after feeling a "twinge" in his back. [New York Daily News]

DIFFERENT SWING -- John Smoltz talks about his attempt at a golf career. [Detroit Free Press]

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Posted on: March 30, 2011 9:36 am
 

Pepper: Opening day eve a time for optimism



By Matt Snyder


It's palpable. The 2011 baseball season is finally (almost) upon us.

My favorite part about the beginning of the baseball season is how much of the unknown we're about to encounter. Go back to the predictions from last season from any professional publication, any team message board, anywhere. I challenge you to find one with the Giants against the Rangers in the World Series. Roy Halladay for Cy Young -- OK, nearly everyone had that one. So, yeah, there might be some things we know are going to happen. Still, not many had the Reds in the NL Central last year. I bet the same percentage of people who picked this season's NCAA basketball Final Four correctly had the Padres winning 90 games last season. Josh Hamilton for AL MVP? C'mon. The examples are seemingly endless.

So, yes, there are going to be many predictions heading into the season. It's fun to do them, in fact, it's one of my favorite things to do. That doesn't mean anyone knows what's going to happen, otherwise it would be pretty boring to actually watch the thing unfold.

So let loose with the fearless predictions. Are you a Nationals fan that who thinks your team is taking down the Phillies this year? Sing it, sister! No one can tell you you're wrong right now. Nothing has happened yet and it's a time for optimism.

Remember, as our friend Andy Dufresne once tried to teach his good buddy Red, hope is not a dangerous thing -- it's a good thing.

MADDON'S WINE LINEUP: Joe Maddon is awesome. This should be accepted as fact. In the latest example, Maddon sets a batting order of his favorite wines. (TBO.com )

ETHIER UNSURE? This was a bit puzzling to come out just a few days before the season started, but it could very well be much ado about nothing. All-Star outfielder Andre Ethier said he wasn't sure about his future with the Dodgers after this season. "You don't know if this is your last [year] or not, but you want to enjoy it to its fullest extent and make the most out of it." (LA Times ) What's weird about this is Ethier isn't a free agent until after 2012. It doesn't seem he's a likely trade candidate, as he's a young member of the team's nucleus. So you could dig deep and think he knows something ... or you could take this for what it probably was -- a guy just talking about every possibility as he heads into an uncertain season. Let's not make a mountain out of a molehill here.

DISGRUNTLED DODGER FAN:
Here's a beauty. A fan of the Dodgers had been attending games for 23 years and was a season ticket holder for the past eight. He declined to renew his season tickets for 2011 and when offered lunch with owner Frank McCourt -- likely to try and smooth things over -- the fan refused. "My friends all asked me if I was crazy," Brian Gadinsky said. "I told them, no, I am just tired. … I am tired of being loyal to a man who has not returned that loyalty." Gadinsky later said he hopes the Dodgers go 162-0 but he "can no longer support a man who has taken this great foundation and allowed it to rot." Awesome. (LA Times )

BITTERSWEET DAY FOR PEAVY: Jake Peavy had a good day Tuesday, though he was feeling down about things. "It was a tough day, but a motivating day as well," he said (Chicago Sun-Times ). Peavy would be speaking about seeing his team break camp without him, as well as his simulated game against White Sox hitters going well. He threw 45 pitches, retiring all 13 hitters he faced -- including Carlos Quentin four times. But since he's still building his way back from tendinitis in his rotator cuff, he's staying behind as the White Sox head north for the season. If everything goes as planned, Peavy will make a second rehab stint April 13 and could join his teammates at the big-league level after that.

DOWN GOES HAPP: Astros starting pitcher J.A. Happ went down with the seemingly trendy oblique injury. As we've seen with Brian Wilson and a few others this spring, this is an injury that takes several weeks to overcome, though Happ is still "optimistic" he can be ready for his first start. He must have read my intro above. (Ultimate Astros )

IZZY CONTEMPLATES RETIREMENT? The Mets have chosen Blaine Boyer as their final bullpen arm to enter the season, which meant veteran Jason Isringhausen was designated for assignment. Though Izzy did only allow one run in seven spring innings, the Mets are concerned about his durability -- and who can blame them, with his three Tommy John surgeries and age (38). Manager Terry Collins is reportedly trying to convince Isringhausen to stay with the team, though he may retire to spend more time with his family. Also, give credit to general manager Sandy Alderson, who reportedly "promised" Isringhausen the Mets would release him if another team wanted to sign him. (New York Times baseball blog)

OGANDO READY: We found out earlier in the week Alexi Ogando would take the rotation spot vacated by Tommy Hunter. Tuesday, he had a nice outing to prepare for the transition. He worked six innings, giving up one run on three hits while walking four and striking out five. He faced Coastal Carolina, but the main thing was showing he could throw six innings and he appears ready to take the temporary plunge into the rotation. (Star-Telegram )

JURRJENS PROGRESSING:
Braves starting pitcher Jair Jurrjens left his start last Thursday with "discomfort" in his ribcage (oblique muscle, anyone?) and hasn't thrown off a mound since. He did play catch in the outfield Tuesday, so that's something. "He's progressing well. We're just not there yet," general manager Frank Wren said. "We're not pushing it, because we don't want to set him back." The only thing the Braves have revealed on the next step is that Jurrjens will throw a side session "soon."  Fortunately the Braves have four other very capable starters in Tim Hudson, Derek Lowe, Tommy Hanson and Brandon Beachy. They could even dip into the minors and grab Mike Minor if Jurrjens is out for an extended amount of time. (MLB.com )

DREW DAY-TO-DAY: Stephen Drew had an MRI on his stomach Tuesday and was diagnosed with a strained abdomen. He's listed as day-to-day and might miss opening day, but he is not going to be placed on the disabled list. This is where we remind everyone that missing opening day is not a huge deal. It's 0.6 percent of the season. (MLB.com )

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Posted on: March 23, 2011 10:30 am
Edited on: March 23, 2011 11:42 am
 

Pepper: Greinke explains why Nationals were nixed

Greinke

By Evan Brunell

JUST WIN, BABY: Zack Greinke spoke about rejecting a trade to the Nationals in favor of the Brewers, turning down an extension that would have been worth over $100 million.

The reason for the deal, Greinke says, has nothing to do with having anything against Washington. In fact, Greinke wouldn't rule out going to the Nationals once he hits free agency, but Milwaukee is where he wanted to be.

"The one thing I couldn’t get over was the fact that, here I was trying to get out of Kansas City because the team wasn’t good," Greinke said. "Not saying [the Nationals] don’t have a chance, but I was trying to get to a team that was looking really good at the moment. And I believe [the Nationals] will be good eventually."

In addition, Greinke cited the fact that Washington would have given up too much of its building blocks that could take the team into contention, including Jordan Zimmermann, Danny Espinosa and others. Milwaukee, meanwhile, coughed up players that weren't crucial to the contending process.

But for now, Greinke is with the Brew Crew and rehabilitating a cracked rib. While everyone involved would prefer Greinke was healthy, the extra time has allowed those in the organization to get to know Greinke. (Washington Post)

STICK TO THE MALL: Tommy Hilfiger came out with some redesigns of iconic sports uniforms with his take on the Dallas Cowboys, Los Angeles Lakers, Montreal Canadiens and New York Yankees. Umm, Tommy... stick with what's gotten you here, 'kay? (San Antonio Express News)

WELCOME TO THE JOB: In Joe Garagiola, Jr.'s first ruling, baseball's new disciplinarian is expected to hand down a ruling on the Cardinals-Nationals fracas from Tuesday in which Livan Hernandez admitted plunking Colby Rasmus on purpose. It's unclear how hard Garagiola will come down, but expect fines at the very least. (Washington Post)

POLE POSITION: “MLB wants to play in Europe and the Netherlands have conquered pole position," says MLB's director for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The Netherlands are on track to build a baseball stadium for 2014 to host baseball's first European games in Hoofddorp, a 30-minute drive from Amsterdam. Germany (Regensburg) and Italy (Rome) are also in contention. (Mister Baseball

"NOW PLAYING CENTER FIELD -- WAIT, WHAT?" Jason Bay took a turn in center field for the Mets on Tuesday, and it could be something you see again. Skipper Terry Collins says Bay could play center in a pinch as he will not allow Carlos Beltran to return to center at any point. (New York Times)

Josh Hamilton v.2: Everyone knows Josh Hamilton's story, but have you heard of Jeff Allison? The Marlins grabbed him with their first-round pick in 2003 after Hamilton was named Baseball America's High School Player of the Year. Two heroin overdoses and an Oxycontin addiction later, Allison seemed on the verge of leaving baseball -- and life. But he's been clean for over four years now and got his first taste of the majors Tuesday. (Miami Herald)

ROTATING LINEUP: Joe Maddon would love to have a set lineup for the Rays, but that's not going to happen. There's too much good information, he says, that comes from within the organization regarding production against certain pitchers and especially this year, Maddon plans to take advantage of it. (MLB.com)

TALKING CONTRACT: Adrian Gonzalez's agent, John Boggs, was in town on Tuesday to talk contract with the Red Sox. Both sides came away optimistic, and -- stop me if you haven't heard this before -- expect an extension to be consummated in April. (Boston Globe)

IZZY'S FINE: One of the more intriguing stories of spring training was Jason Isringhausen's return to the majors with the Mets. An injury appeared to have perhaps changed that, but Isringhausen says the injury won't knock him out for a while and he should still be ready for Opening Day. (New York Post)

STILL NO NO. 5: The Cubs still haven't made any decisions on who the No. 5 starter will be, so Carlos Silva gets another chance to turn his spring training around when he draws the start in Wednesday's spring-training game. (Chicago Tribune)

RIDE THE PONY: A classic restaurant that was the staple of baseball people in Scottsdale, Ariz. for a decade has reopened under new ownership and has drawn rave reviews for ... keeping things exactly the same, which is how patrons of the restaurant like it. (Washington Post)

ORGAN MUSIC: A nice little story on the White Sox's new organist, replacing one who retired after 40 years on the job. (Chicago Tribune)

REMEMBERING STEVE OLIN AND TIM CREWS: Tuesday was the 18th anniversary of the tragedy that took the lives of Indians pitchers Steve Olin and Tim Crews. A look back... (Cleveland Plain-Dealer)

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Posted on: March 20, 2011 1:53 pm
Edited on: April 18, 2011 11:48 am
 

Pepper: Collins to dial down intensity

Collins

By Evan Brunell

TIME TO LOOSEN UP: Terry Collins is well aware of his reputation as a no-nonsense manager whose intensity lost the respect of his players when he helmed the Astros and Angels.

However, to hear Collins tell it, he realizes where he went wrong and wants to make changes.

 

"I’ve thought about it a lot," he said. "I took it way too serious. Even though I enjoyed it, I didn’t enjoy it. It was all about the winning, winning, winning, instead of enjoying being around these guys and watching them play, enjoying the experience and the challenge of competing. That’s what I love to do.

"There was that thing that I had to prove something. I still want to prove that we’re good enough, but I don’t think it’s the same type of attitude I had in the past. And with that comes the fact that these guys are human beings, and they need communication."

Collins plans to have the Mets play aggressively, as his Angels did -- which still continues to this day under manager Mike Scioscia. He also places a premium on players aspiring to be great and staying focused, which sounds a lot like the old Collins, but the skipper knows that.

"Hopefully, the energy -- or whatever people want to say, the intenseness that I have -- may work here," Collins said. (New York Times)

 

IZZY COULD SET UP: Jason Isringhausen was once one of the Mets' most heralded pitching prospects before injuries completely wrecked his early years. He was later moved to Oakland and became a closer, famous for his time in St. Louis. Now, after missing most of the last two years, Izzy appears poised to set up closer Francisco Rodriguez back in New York. (New York Post)

IT'LL BE PUDGE: After a brief skirmish among Nationals reporters as to the state of the catching, it appears Ivan Rodriguez will certainly start Opening Day for Washington -- but Wilson Ramos figures to get the bulk of work behind the plate in short order. (Washington Post)

NO MORE GUYS: Five Guys is a weakness of Evan's, and it will no longer taunt him in Nationals Park, as the burger chain has opted not to renew its lease despite being one of the more popular options for customers. (Eater.com)

SILVA'S SPOT IN DANGER: Carlos Silva has had a beyond-awful spring training and although he's slated to take the bump once more next Wednesday, that may not happen. Manager Mike Quade and GM Jim Hendry are expected to sit down and make some touch decisions prior to then. It's entirely feasible that Silva will be put out of the running for the No. 5 starter's spot at that time. (Chicago Sun-Times)

GOOD NEWS FOR BREW CREW: Milwaukee already has enough problems figuring out who will replace Zack Greinke in the rotation, so bad news regarding Shaun Marcum is not ideal. However, the righty believes while he may have to skip a start in spring training, he will be on track for the regular season. (MLB.com)

THE NATURAL: Ken Griffey, Jr.'s talent on the field sometimes evoked comparisons to the immortal Ray Hobbs, but who knew that Griffey had untapped potential? Griffey stopped by the Mariners' broadcast booth for five innings Friday and drew rave reviews. (MLB.com)

BENGIE WANTS TO PLAY: Don't call Bengie Molina retired, brother Jose of the Blue Jays says. Rather, Molina isn't interested in playing unless any contract he signs "shows him sufficient respect." Is it just me, or is an offer to extend your career and haul in at least another half-million plenty of respect to give? (FOX Sports)

INCREMENTAL PROGRESS: The Yankees haven't made formal who the Nos. 4 and 5 starters will be (bank on Ivan Nova and Freddy Garcia) but now we know who is following CC Sabathia on the mound: A.J. Burnett and Phil Hughes, respectively. (New York Post)

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Posted on: February 25, 2011 8:46 am
Edited on: April 18, 2011 11:37 am
 

Pepper: Spring is time for rebirth



RESURRECTIONS:
Carlos Beltran is making some progress on his rehab program, as he ran the bases Wednesday. "That's a huge sign, because he told me when he starts running the bases he'll be close to playing. So that was a big sign for me," manager Terry Collins said (ESPN New York ). The five-time All-Star hasn’t played a full season since 2008, but at age 33, it’s not out of the question to return to form for at least a year or two. He played last September, but was shut down the last week when his bothersome knee flared up.

Disclaimer alert: he hasn't pitched in a game since June 13, 2009, he's 38 years old and it's awfully early in camp. Still, Jason Isringhausen is impressing Mets brass thus far. Armed with a new changeup, Izzy has been good enough to draw the word "outstanding," from Collins. (New York Times )

Elsewhere, Brandon Webb is still on a long road back himself. He threw "60 to 65 pitches off flat ground" Thursday. He'll throw again Friday and if there are no setbacks, the Rangers will put him on the mound either Sunday or Monday (ESPN Dallas ). The right-hander, who finished in the top two of Cy Young voting three consecutive seasons before falling injured, hasn't thrown a pitch in the majors since April 6, 2009. Webb, 31, is a complete wild card this season for the defending AL champs.

And though it isn't near as long a road back as Webb, Jake Peavy of the White Sox is feeling very optimistic, though he's careful not to get too far ahead of himself. "I'm far ahead of where I thought I would be at this point," Peavy told MLB.com . "But I can't push it and I've got to be cautious." In fact, the White Sox’s potential ace might be on track to start April 6, if everything goes as well as it possibly could. The 29 year old went 7-6 with a 4.63 ERA in 17 starts in 2010, last pitching July 6. He underwent season-ending surgery to repair a detached muscle in his pitching arm.

ABDOMINAL ANNOYANCE: Franklin Gutierrez was forced to fly back to Seattle to visit with some doctors about an ongoing stomach issue Thursday. The center fielder has suffered severe stomach pains on occasion since late last season, to the point that he couldn't eat well and his play was affected. It could help explain some of his offensive woes, as Gutierrez went .212/.253/.304 in his last 75 games at the plate. He did tell reporters last week his issue was gone, but it has apparently resurfaced and he'll likely need to get on some sort of medication to alleviate the pains. (Seattle Times )

SLIM CC: After dropping 25 pounds this offseason, CC Sabathia says he can already tell the difference when it comes to his stamina. "In years past, I would get a little gassed in my bullpens once I got 30, 40 pitches in, but I felt pretty good," he told the New York Times . "I was able to keep my mechanics together and work on stuff that I need to work on." If this carries over the regular season, watch out. The big fella has averaged 240 innings a season since 2007, averaging just a tick above seven innings per start. And he has more stamina?

On a lighter note, he noted the toughest tests for him during the season are road trips to Kansas City (BBQ) and Chicago (deep-dish pizza). Amen, CC.

BREWER BARGAIN: As Ryan Braun watches peers cash in with what some consider ludicrous contracts, one might wonder if he feels like his eight-year, $45 million contract -- of which he has five years remaining -- is short-changing him. The reality is that with the numbers Braun puts up, factoring in his age (27) and durability (at least 151 games in each of his three full seasons), the contract is an absolute steal for Milwaukee. To Braun's credit, he's not griping. He's only thinking about the playoffs, he says. As for the money thing, he told MLB.com: "I get it, but it's a non-issue. I pay attention to what goes on around the game, obviously, but I'm happy for all of those guys. I agreed to a deal three years ago that goes five [more] years, and I'm excited and honored to be here." (MLB.com )

IRON MAN? The ever-polarizing A.J. Pierzynski wants to catch every game this season. Yes, all 162. There's no need to get into the realism of that one, what with his career high in games being 140, his offensive skills deteriorating and his age hitting 34. Plus, there's nothing wrong with wanting to play every game. More guys should want that. The juice in this article is the always-hilarious Ozzie Guillen, who once said he hates his catcher only a little less than the competition. This time around, he again said Pierzynski annoys him and that "sometimes I wish he wouldn’t even come to the ballpark." It should be noted, Guillen was laughing, thus, saying everything tongue-in-cheek. (MLB.com )

UNDER BYRD'S WING:
It's always sad when veteran players have an ego too big to take a younger player under their wing. A football example comes to mind: you know, something with a guy wearing number four and a team that just won the Super Bowl. Anyway, I digress. We're talking about baseball. And Marlon Byrd of the Cubs has been working with top Cubs prospect Brett Jackson this spring. They're both center fielders, and Byrd's even embracing the inevitable for the sake of the franchise. "Last year, he really didn't know me," Byrd told MLB.com . "Now I say things and he understands that it's to help him. I even have to sit him down and say, 'I've got to help you to get ready because if you're going to move me to right field, you have to be ready. If not, I'm capable of playing at 34, 35 years old.' He got a kick out of that. He laughed."

RESTORING POWER IN THE BAY: ESPN’s SweetSpot blog takes a look at Jason Bay, specifically his power. Or, if we’re talking about 2010, a lack thereof. Four times in Bay’s career he went yard at least 30 times in a season. After signing a big contract with the Mets, he did so just six times in 401 plate appearances in 2010. There were health problems and an adjustment to a new, cavernous park, but the output was still horrifying, as Bay slugged just .402 (his career slugging percentage is .508). Bay said he believes 30 home runs this season is "reasonable," and points to David Wright -- whose home run total jumped from 10 to 29 in his second season with Citi Field as a home.

BOSTON RED STALKS:
Remember how Carl Crawford was creeped out about the Red Sox virtually tailing him over the winter before inking him to a colossal contract? Johnny Damon, part of the group replacing Crawford in Tampa Bay and former Red Sox outfielder, isn't surprised. He even offered up an example of when it had happened in the past. "I know Boston had followed guys before like Mo Vaughn especially; they wanted to see what he was doing all the time. The Boston fans, they follow you around too to see what you’re doing, it seems like they’re everywhere. But when a team's investing $142 million they probably have a right to know every little bit of your history," he told the St. Petersburgh Times . Interesting. Damon wasn’t anywhere close to Boston when Vaughn departed via free agency, but he could very well be correct. And if he is, the Red Sox did their homework well. Check out Vaughn’s stats by year -- right when he departed Boston, his regression began.

-- Matt Snyder

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Posted on: August 2, 2010 12:33 pm
Edited on: August 2, 2010 2:20 pm
 

Chapman closer to the big leagues

Aroldis Chapman Aroldis Chapman is getting closer to the big leagues, Reds manager Walt Jocketty told the Cincinnati Enquirer 's John Erardi .

"We'll see how he is in the next couple of weeks," Jocketty said.

The Reds moved Chapman from the rotation to the bullpen in June and after a rough start, Chapman has dominated. In his last nine relief outings, Chapman hasn't surrendered an earned run. In 10 1/3 innings, he's allowed six hits, walked six and struck out 17, allowing an unearned run.

Overall, he's 3-1 with a 2.81 ERA in 15 appearances as a reliever, walking nine and striking out 29 in 18 2/3 innings, limiting batters to a .186 average against. In his first six outings, he allowed six earned runs in 8 1/3 innings.

The Reds still view Chapman as a starter in the future, but hope to use him out of the bullpen in a pennant race and potential playoff push, much like the Rays did with David Price in 2008.

The Reds currently have two lefties in their bullpen, Arthur Rhodes and Bill Bray. The team sent right-hander Carlos Fisher to Triple-A following Sunday's game and will call up 41-year old Russ Springer before tonight's game in Pittsburgh. Springer and Jason Isringhausen (who has given up an earned run in each of his two outings at Triple-A since signing with the team last week) are part of Jocketty's retirement home fishing for bullpen help.

The bullpen, especially the middle relief, has the Reds biggest concern through the first three months of the season, but in July, the bullpen had a 2.52 ERA, allowing 21 runs in 75 innings. In the first three months of the season, the bullpen had a 4.57 ERA.

One of the big reasons for the turnaround is that Nick Masset, who sported a 2.37 ERA last season, but had a 5.88 ERA through the first three months of the season. In July, Masset allowed just one earned run in 15 appearances with batters hitting .184 against him with 14 strikeouts and seven walks. Rookie Logan Ondrusek has allowed just two runs in 24 games since being recalled from Triple-A at the beginning of June and hasn't allowed a run in his last 17 outings, totaling 18 2/3 innings. Another rookie, Jordan Smith, has also been good with a 2.53 ERA in 18 games. He hasn't allowed a run in his last eight appearances.

A lefty out of the pen could give 40-year old Rhodes a little relief. Rhodes has appeared in a 50 games. He earned his first All-Star bid after an amazing start -- in his first 35 games of the season, Rhodes had a 0.28 ERA, giving up just one run in his first 33 innings pitch of the season with batters hitting .140/.220/.187 against him. In his last 15, Rhodes has a 5.79 ERA with batters hitting .270/.333/.568 against him in 9 1/3 innings.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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