Tag:Jason Vargas
Posted on: April 30, 2011 1:22 am
 

3 up, 3 down: Walk-off slam

Carlos Santana
By C. Trent Rosecrans

3UP

Carlos Santana, Indians -- With the game tied in the bottom of the ninth with one out and the bases loaded, Santana only need a fly ball to win the game for the Indians. He hit a fly ball all right, one that went 352 feet into the stands in right field for the walk-off grand slam.

Jarrod Dyson, Royals -- Dyson didn't even have a plate appearance, but his speed was the difference in the Royals' Friday night 5-4 victory over the Twins. Dyson entered the game as a pinch-runner in the eighth inning and immediately made a difference. He stole second, and when Drew Butera's throw went into center field, Wilson Betemit scored from third and Dyson went to third. With one out, Yunel Escobar hit a soft liner to shallow left field, which Twins shortstop Alexi Casilla caught, but Dyson tagged up and beat the throw home easily, scoring the winning run.

Jason Vargas, Mariners -- Seattle's left-hander broke a 13-game winless streak by pitching seven innings in Boston on Friday. Varagas allowed four runs on eight hits and two walks, while Seattle won its fourth straight game in its six-game road trip.

3DOWN

Travis Wood, Reds -- With Johnny Cueto and Homer Bailey getting close to returning to the Reds' rotation, left-hander Travis Wood may have been pitching for his big-league life on Friday. How'd that go? Well, Louisville's nice this time of year. Wood allowed five first-inning runs to the Marlins in Cincinnati's 7-6 loss to Florida. Wood lasted 3 1/3 innings, allowing seven runs on eight hits with two walks and three strikeouts.

David Price, Rays -- Allowed a career-high 12 hits in just 4 1/3 innings in an 8-5 loss to the Angels. Price allowed five runs and walked one, striking out four. Angels rookie first baseman had an RBI single and a two-run homer off of Price, 

Bobby Jenks, Red Sox -- The former White Sox closer gave up a walk, a single and a pair of doubles to Chone Figgins and Jack Cust to pick up the loss for the Red Sox. Jenks has allowed nine runs, eight earned, in his last 4 1/3 innings.

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Posted on: April 24, 2011 12:18 am
 

3 up, 3 down: The new 'Daily Double' in Wrigley

By Matt Snyder

3UP

Starlin Castro and Darwin Barney, Cubs. One of my first memories as a baseball fan is the 1984 season -- in which I watched games on WGN and the Cubs had a 1-2 punch atop the order of Bob Dernier and Ryne Sandberg. They, together, were nicknamed the "Daily Double." In the decade ahead, it's entirely possible the 21-year-old Castro and 25-year-old Barney can form one of the most formidable 1-2 punches in baseball. They were on full display Saturday in the Cubs' come-from-behind 10-8 victory. Castro went 4-5 (even though one hit was the product of Jerry Sands losing a fly ball in left) with two runs and three RBI while Barney was 3-5 with two runs and three RBI. On the season, the two are completely locked in. Castro is hitting .393 with a .947 OPS. Barney is hitting .323 with a .772 OPS. Each has driven home 10 runs, which ties them for second on the team behind Alfonso Soriano. And I have to report the hits aren't cheap -- both players hit the ball hard nearly every at-bat. While the pitching staff struggles, the offense is producing well beyond expectations -- and it's mostly due to the duo atop the order.

Brad Penny, Tigers. Look, the White Sox are struggling, specifically on offense. Regardless of that, it can't be denied they have lots of really talented hitters. And Penny took a no-hitter into the sixth. He ended up going seven innings for the Tigers, allowing only that one hit -- a questionable one at that -- two walks and a hit-by-pitch in a 9-0 win.

Daisuke Matsuzaka, Red Sox. He's kidding, right? Two straight stellar outings? What is this, the World Baseball Classic? I might have to quit snarkily referring to him as "Dice-BB." Matsuzaka was masterful Saturday night, working eight shutout innings, striking out nine and only giving up a single hit. He did walk three, but that's not awful for eight innings. He retired 20 of the last 22 batters he faced. Don't look now, but the Red Sox are 9-11 after a 2-10 start. If Dice-K keeps throwing like this, they're going to be in pretty great shape.

3DOWN

Ryan Franklin, Cardinals. The disaster of a season continues for the former star closer. He was booed more loudly than Brandon Phillips by the St. Louis fans and gave up the go-ahead two-RBI single to Miguel Cairo. He wasn't exactly put in a great situation by Tony La Russa with the bases loaded -- seriously, if you remove a guy from closing duties, shouldn't he get some low-pressure outings to build confidence? -- but still coughed up the big blow of the game. Again.

Fausto Carmona, Indians. He was carved up by a Twins offense that has been rather punchless in the early going. Sure, they did have Justin Morneau, but still no Joe Mauer or Delmon Young. And Carmona allowed seven hits and six earned runs in five innings. Worse yet was his four walks and one strikeout illustrate the lack of stuff he had. If the Indians are to prove this start is not fluky, Carmona has to pitch better than he did Saturday. Fortunately for the Tribe, it's only one game.

Jason Vargas and Josh Lueke, Mariners. The A's had been held scoreless for 18 straight innings heading into Saturday night's game with Seattle. Yet by the end of the sixth inning Saturday, they had scored nine times on Vargas and Lueke. Vargas needed 100 pitches to get through five innings, coughing up six hits, three walks and six earned runs. Lueke must have felt bad for Vargas, because he went out and gave up four hits, a walk and three runs in just one frame. Kevin Kouzmanoff, Cliff Pennington and Coco Crisp -- good guys and all, but hardly murderer's row -- did most of the damage for the A's.

BONUS UP and DOWN: Brandon Lyon, Astros. Lyon entered the game in the ninth inning with the task of holding onto a one-run Astros lead. He didn't. A Prince Fielder RBI double tied the game and Lyon had blown a save. He was left in the game, however, into extra innings and even took an at-bat -- one in which he doubled himself. He then closed the door in the 10th and earned the back-door victory. Not a bad night, but blowing saves isn't exactly good. Definitely interesting.

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Posted on: March 28, 2011 5:42 pm
 

Michael Pineda makes Mariners rotation

Pineda

By Evan Brunell

The Mariners have decided to go with phenom Michael Pineda in the No. 5 spot of the rotation, as Geoff Baker reports on Twitter.

This is a surprise, as Pineda is just 22 and it would have been entirely justifiable for the Mariners to send him to Triple-A for some more seasoning and wait until June to promote Pineda. By allowing Pineda to break camp with the team, Pineda could hit free agency after the 2016 season. Of course, this is all assuming Pineda stays in the majors and doesn't lose service time in the future, but it is difficult to imagine Pineda blowing up and requiring a demotion. The Mariners would not have made the move to Pineda without being fully confident in both his current talent and ability to sustain it over a full year.

The right-hander was recently named the No. 20 prospect in all of baseball by CBS Sports and could eventually emerge to give the team a wicked complement to Felix Hernandez atop the order.

Pineda split 2010 between Double- and Triple-A, making 13 starts in the lesser league and earning a 2.33 ERA in 77 innings, walking 17 and whiffing 78. While he would walk 17 in Triple-A as well in less innings (62 1/3), he also dialed up his whiff proficiency, seating 76 by way of the K. Due to some bad luck, he finished his Triple-A season with a 4.76 ERA in 13 starts.

Now, Pineda will hit the majors and give fans and Ichiro Suzuki something to get excited about. There's promise in the Emerald City with Pineda hitting the majors and Justin Smoak manning first base after being acquired in the Cliff Lee trade. Top hitting prospect Dustin Ackley, who was ranked No. 8 among the top 100 list, will hit the majors at some point this season and take over second base. It will take some time for all the talent to gel together, but there's cause for real optimism.

Pineda will bring up the back of a rotation headlined by Hernandez and followed by Jason Vargas, Doug Fister and Erik Bedard.

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Posted on: March 12, 2011 5:07 pm
Edited on: March 12, 2011 5:23 pm
 

Mariners top prospect Pineda to make rotation?

PinedaBy Evan Brunell

Former Nationals GM Jim Bowden is now a host on MLB Network radio and tweeted the Mariners rotation as he sees it after discussing it with manager Eric Wedge and GM Jack Zduriencik.

Topping the rotation to no one's surprise is Felix Hernandez, the AL Cy Young Award winner this past season. Behind him are Jason Vargas and Doug Fister -- soft-tossing pitchers with some success at the major-league level, but nothing to write home about. Vargas did have a 3.78 ERA in 31 starts over 192 2/3 innings, but clearly benefited from Safeco Field -- his home ERA was 2.86, away 4.85 while his overall xFIP was 4.82.

Fister, meanwhile, had a 4.11 ERA in 28 starts and 171 innings pitched, but paired his stingy 1.7 BB/9 rate with a 4.9 K/9 mark. His xFIP was actually intriguingly close to his ERA at 4.27, but exhibited drastic first- and second-half splits. Prior to the All-Star Game, Fister had a 3.09 ERA in 13 starts that spiked to 5.09 in 15 post-break starts.

It's the two starters behind Vargas and Fister that are intriguing. The No. 4 starter appears to be Erik Bedard, with good reports coming out of camp that the lefty is healthy and ready to contribute. When Bedard has been able to take the field the last three years (and not at all in 2010), he has delivered on the promise he flashed in 2009-09 with the Orioles. If Bedard can put together a full season, he could easily be the club's No. 2 starter.

The No. 5 starter appears to be Michael Pineda, the No. 20 prospect in CBSSports.com's Top 100 Prospects list. This isn't a surprise, as Pineda's talents are exceptional and appears near-ready for the majors. However, to come out with Pineda starting the season in the rotation is a bit odd. While money shouldn't be a major influence in a player's arrival in the majors, that's doubly so for big-market teams and/or those in competition. The Giants, for example, won the World Series on the back of Rookie of the Year Buster Posey, who was held down until late May. The Giants ended up needing the final day of the regular season to win the division.

However, the Mariners harbor no illusions that they are not better than the Rangers and Athletics, if not the Angels as well. While .500 is not out of reach for Seattle, the added value of keeping Pineda down until he wouldn't qualify for being a Super Two arbitration-eligible player seems worth more than having Pineda grab 32 starts with the big-league club. While Seattle is a big-market team, that doesn't mean the M's shouldn't take advantage of the rules.

Plus, Pineda hasn't torn apart Triple-A yet and only has 12 starts at that level. The 22-year-old posted a 4.76 ERA last year in those 12 starts after a 2.22 mark in 13 starts. Pineda's strikeout and walk rates in Triple-A held steady, but coughed up a few extra home runs that was likely the difference in the ERA. There just doesn't appear to be an overwhelming reason to bring Pineda up immediately along with No. 8 prospect Dustin Ackley who is preparing to become the second baseman.

Once the calendar flips to June, absolutely bring up Pineda and Ackley. Until then, the Mariners need to focus on getting these players additional seasoning at Triple-A and delaying their clocks as long as possible. 

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Posted on: October 6, 2010 5:18 pm
Edited on: October 6, 2010 5:32 pm
 

R.I.P. Mariners: From hopeful to hapless

As the sports world waits for the crowning of a champion, 22 other teams are busy preparing for spring training. What went wrong for these teams, and what does 2011 hold? MLB Facts and Rumors here at CBS Sports will be answering those questions through all of October. Today: The Seattle Mariners.

A new day seemed to have dawned for the Mariners as 2010 approached.

The 2009 season had brought a winning record and a 24-win improvement over the previous year. General manager Jack Zduriencik had added to the offense and stunned baseball by bringing in ace Cliff Lee, who would create a devastating 1-2 punch with Felix Hernandez atop the rotation.

Many in the media picked Seattle as the favorites in the American League West, and if they made it to the postseason with Lee and Hernandez , well, anything could happen.

Oops. Instead of a playoff contender, the Mariners were the worst team in the AL, and featured the least productive offense fielded by any team in the designated-hitter era. After 101 losses, Zduriencik’s master plan was left in shambles.

A National League talent evaluator who watched the Mariners late in the season told ESPN’s Buster Olney “That is the worst group of position players I have ever seen. They make the Pirates look like the '27 Yankees.''

So, yeah, it’s that bad.

WHAT WENT WRONG

What didn’t? They had injuries, poor performances, internal strife and became almost painful for fans to watch as they flailed at the plate.

Seattle scored a horrific 513 runs, 100 fewer than the next-worst AL offense and 75 less than the 105-loss Pirates. It was the lowest full-season run total for a team since the 1971 Padres. Apart from Ichiro Suzuki’s .315, none of the regulars batted above .259.

Milton Bradley, who was supposed to provide the power punch Seattle was lacking, played in just 73 games. He walked out on the team in the middle of a game, went for counseling and said he contemplated suicide.  He didn’t play after July 26 due to a knee problem.

Ken Griffey Jr., the greatest player not only in the history of the Mariners but the history of the city, batted .184 and became so disgusted with his playing time and his performance that he left Seattle without warning in June, reportedly not even calling to let the team know he was gone until he’d hit Montana.

Chone Figgins instigated a dugout scrum by going after manager Don Wakamatsu during a game. Figgins wasn’t disciplined, never even apologized, and Wakamatsu walked the plank three weeks later.

The Mariners traded Cliff Lee in July, and the can’t-miss prospect they got, Justin Smoak, has mostly missed. Another prospect in the deal, Josh Lueke, turned out to have a serious legal problem the team might or might not have known about.

And that’s just a sampling. Basically, this season was an unqualified disaster.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

Well, there was Hernandez and Ichiro and … uh … give me a minute …

By far the highlight was Hernandez putting on an exhibition in domination just about every five days. He led the AL in ERA, innings, quality starts, fewest hits per nine innings, and finished one behind in strikeouts. The shame of it was that he managed just 13 wins, and his offense probably cost him the Cy Young. But he was a pleasure to watch.

Felix Hernandez Ichiro quietly led the league in hits, amassing his 10th 200-hit season in 10 years, the first player in history to do it 10 times in a row.

The Mariners got some promising pitching from Jason Vargas and relievers David Aardsma and Brandon League.

HELP ON THE WAY

On the bright side, the Mariners got ample chance to see their up-and-coming players, looking like a Triple-A team on some days in the second half.

Smoak has all the tools, and there remains optimism that he will put it together. Infielder Dustin Ackley, the second pick in the 2009 draft, is developing, and the Mariners are excited about pitcher Michael Pineda.

But other than Ackley and Pineda, all the young players with the potential to impact the big-league club in the next several years got a shot this season. None of it exactly wowed the Mariners, but there is some hope.
 
EXPECTATIONS FOR 2011

One thing is for sure: They’re not going to fool anyone into thinking they’re contenders again next year. This has been exposed as a team that’s a very long way from contending, and despite a respectable payroll, there’s so much of it tied up in Ichiro, Bradley and Figgins that they will be limited in how much outside help they can get.

SUGGESTIONS FOR 2011

Beyond Ichiro and Hernandez, you have to think the Mariners will consider nothing sacred in their system with the possible exception of Ackley.

The Mariners need help pretty much everywhere. They’re not that “one player away” team that can go grab a couple of high-priced veterans and think it will make a difference. Zduriencik and his staff will have to work smart, and abandon the notion that defense and pitching are enough.

One suggestion I’d make is for the team to emphasize character and chemistry. By all accounts the atmosphere around the Mariners was toxic from early on this year, from the clubhouse to the front office, and it was a factor in the team collapsing when things got tough instead of pulling it together. Giving Figgins a free pass for attacking his manager sent a terrible message, and allowing the situation with Griffey to deteriorate the way it did was embarrassing.

Start with a manager who is going to demand accountability, and give him the best tools you can find to work with.

2011 PREDICTION

It’s probably not going to get a lot better in Seattle next season. The good news, if you can call it that, is that it doesn’t have a lot of room to get worse, either.

Check out the rest of the R.I.P. teams here.

-- David Andriesen

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