Tag:Kevin Kouzmanoff
Posted on: April 6, 2011 12:42 am
 

3 up, 3 down for 4/5: Yovani to rescue



By Matt Snyder


Lots of great performances Tuesday, so remember this is no all-inclusive list. There were also some young arms that excelled -- oh, and don't forget about the lanky toast of Queens . On the flip-side, there were some pretty equally dreadful performances. Basically, we're finally getting settled into a routine regular season. Thank the lord. Anyway, here we go.

3UP

Yovani Gallardo, Brewers. Had the Brewers' ace come through with merely a good outing, so long as it resulted in a victory, it would have been the biggest performance Tuesday. They desperately needed to get a win out of the way. Instead of simply being good enough, Gallardo did what a true ace does: He put the team on his shoulders. The offense hasn't hit well since opening day? No issue. All he needed was one (and, yes, that's all he got). The bullpen keeps melting down? No worries, Gallardo didn't need 'em. The 111-pitch complete game, two-hit shutout was a beauty in so many ways. He was easily the most important player in all of baseball Tuesday.

Melky Cabrera, Royals. Teammates Billy Butler and Alex Gordon had big blows leave the yard, but Melky's walk-off single propelled the now 4-1 Royals to a 12-inning victory. He was 3-6 with three RBI in the game.

Marlon Byrd, Cubs. After beginning the season just 3-18, Byrd went 3-4 Tuesday, his last hit being an RBI double that put the Cubs on top for good after a bullpen meltdown.

3DOWN


Manny Ramirez, Rays. According to various tweets, he's already drawing boos from the hometown fans. It's not like he's in Boston or New York. He's drawing boos in laid-back St. Petersburg. It's hard to argue with the locals, either. Manny B. Manny was 0-4 with three strikeouts and three men left on base Tuesday. That means he's hitting .063 with zero extra base hits, zero walks and a .126 OPS thus far. Let's give him lots more at-bats before sounding the alarm -- small sample size and all -- but it's entirely possible his illustrious career is running on fumes.

J.A. Happ, Astros. Not many more ways to say it. Happ was flat out dreadful against the Reds. He should blend right in with the rest of his team, I guess. In four innings, Happ gave up seven hits, five walks and seven earned runs. He walked in two guys and hit in another -- that's a hit-by-pitch with the bases loaded, not a base knock for his team. The Astros are 0-4 and have looked pretty awful -- though we should point out opening at Philly and Cincy isn't too easy.

Rafael Soriano, Yankees. Mark Teixeira's hot bat and CC Sabathia's lockdown pitching had the Yankees cruising to victory through seven with a 4-0 lead. Soriano entered. Walk, line out, walk, single and strikeout read the line after five hitters. Still, no runs had yet scored and there were two outs. But then Soriano walked Joe Mauer and allowed Delmon Young to clear the bases -- and more importantly tie the score -- with a double. Then, after the game, Soriano pulled a no-no when he refused to talk with the New York media. For a sampling of how the reporters feel about the situation -- and how they believe the other players feel as well -- check out this Twitter feed .

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Posted on: April 1, 2011 8:46 pm
 

Kouzmanoff hopes to change approach at plate

By Evan Brunell

KouzmanoffKevin Kouzmanoff almost lost his third base job in Oakland as GM Billy Beane coveted Adrian Beltre.

However, despite coming out of the gates fast with an aggressive play for Beltre, Beane watched as the ex-Red Sox third baseman joined the division rival Rangers, in no doubt thanks in part to the stadium that the A's play in, which suppress offense and is also, to be frank, an unexciting stadium to play in.

Kouz plans to make the most of his second chance in Oakland after struggling through a poor first year in A's green by hitting .247/.283/.396. More was expected after coming over from San Diego and its cavernous park, where he hit .263/.309/.436 over three seasons as a Padre.

Part of what Kouzmanoff is doing to address this includes narrowing his personal strike zone to ensure that he gets a good pitch to hit.

"Sometimes I deviate from that because I want to get the bat head out and swing hard -- and it's a bad pitch," Kouzmanoff admitted to the San Francisco Chronicle. "I don't want to get cheated, but sometimes that's the wrong approach."

The sentiment is admirable, but it is very difficult for someone, especially at age 29 who has gotten this far in his career, to change tactics and decrease his strike zone. After all, Jeff Francoeur has talked smack every offseason for years on improving his plate discipline. As his strikeout Friday at a pitch near his head proved, however, Frenchy still doesn't know the difference between a ball and strike.

Only time will tell whether Kouz can affect such a switch, but after the help Oakland brought in to supplement the lineup, Kouzmanoff is no longer hitting fourth or fifth as he tended to do last season. He opens Friday in the eight hole, which he is OK with.

"Whatever it takes to win a baseball game," he said. "I want to contribute wherever I am in the lineup. But I do see myself as a power-hitting third baseman, and I feel capable of driving in runs."

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Posted on: February 24, 2011 11:34 am
Edited on: February 24, 2011 3:49 pm
 

Honorary All-Grudzielanek team

Mark Grudzielanek played in 1,802 games over the course of 15 major-league seasons. He appeared in uniform for six different teams, making the NLCS twice -- once with the Cubs and once with the Cardinals. He hit .289 with over 2,000 hits and 946 runs scored. He earned one Gold Glove and made the All-Star team once. He was a good guy who always played hard and was generally liked by teammates. Basically, Grudzielanek had a quality major-league career, but won't be showing up on any all-time lists.

That is, unless you are looking squarely at that stupendous last name.

So, in light of his retirement announcement Wednesday, it only seems fitting to put together an All-Star team of the best names in baseball. We're looking for who will carry the torch on with Grudz's departure, so it's current players only. No real criteria, other than that the name just has to sound interesting or be really hard to spell -- or both. This is completely subjective, so there's definite room for argument.

Without further ado, here is the 25-man roster (we also listed all names we considered).

CATCHER: Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Red Sox. And here's the team captain. There's no better name in baseball. Backup: J.P. Arencibia, Blue Jays. Also considered: Francisco Cervelli, Yankees; Taylor Teagarden, Rangers.

FIRST BASE: Pablo Sandoval, Giants. Bonus points for having an awesome nickname. Backup: Kila Ka'aihue, Royals. Also considered: Justin Smoak, Mariners

SECOND BASE: Chone Figgins, Mariners. Real slim pickings here. Nearly every name for a second basemen is bland or common. We'll go with Figgins because "Chone" is pronounced "Sean" or "Shaun" or "Shawn." Also considered: Robinson Cano, Yankees; Dan Uggla, Braves.

THIRD BASE: Kevin Kouzmanoff, A's. Also considered: Placido Polanco, Phillies.

SHORTSTOP:
Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies. Alliteration gets him the nod here. Backup: Yuniesky Betancourt. Also considered: Marco Scutaro, Red Sox; Ryan Theriot, Cardinals.

LEFT FIELD: Scott Podsednik, Blue Jays. Also considered: Chris Coghlan, Marlins; Chris Denorfia, Padres; Ryan Langerhans, Mariners.

CENTER FIELD: Coco Crisp, A's. Another no-brainer. Second easiest pick on here after Saltalamacchia. Backup: Colby Rasmus, Cardinals. Also considered: Nyjer Morgan, Nationals; Rajai Davis, Blue Jays; Cameron Maybin, Padres; Denard Span, Twins; Ryan Spilborghs, Rockies.

RIGHT FIELD: Brennan Boesch, Tigers. Tough call here, but I'm a sucker for the alliteration. Plus, that's just a smooth combo. Props to his parents. Also considered: Jeff Francoeur, Royals; Nate Schierholtz, Giants; Nick Markakis, Orioles.

DESIGNATED HITTER: Milton Bradley, Mariners. Personal feelings aside, this was another obvious one.

STARTING ROTATION: CC Sabathia, Yankees; Max Scherzer, Tigers; Brian Matusz, Orioles; Marc Rzepczynski, Blue Jays; Justin Duchscherer, Orioles. CC gets the nod due to his first name being Carsten. Oh, and for losing the periods to his initials. The other four are pretty obvious with those last names. Grudz is surely proud. Also considered: Bronson Arroyo, Reds; Tim Lincecum, Giants; Madison Bumgarner, Giants; Gio Gonzalez, A's; Tom Gorzelanny, Nationals.

BULLPEN: Octavio Dotel, Blue Jays; Jeff Samardzija, Cubs; Fu-Te Ni, Tigers; Boof Bonser, Mets; Burke Badenhop, Marlins. All pretty obvious great names here, and I especially love "The Hopper," as the Marlins' announcers call Badenhop. Also considered: Brian Duensing, Twins; Joba Chamberlain, Yankees; Jeremy Affeldt, Giants; Jason Isringhausen, Mets.

SETUP: David Aardsma, Mariners. Based mostly on the fact that if you listed every major league player of all-time alphabetically, only Aardsma would come before the great Hank Aaron.

CLOSER: J.J. Putz, Diamondbacks. C'mon. He uses a double initial and his last name looks like an insult (though it's actually pronounced "puts," not "putts," for those in the dark).

MANAGER: Mike Scioscia, Angels. Maybe it's all mental at this point, but spelling that thing correctly still trips me up. Give me Grudzielanek any day. Also considered: Mike Quade, Cubs; Ned Yost, Royals; Manny Acta, Indians.

-- Matt Snyder

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Posted on: November 17, 2010 8:59 pm
Edited on: November 18, 2010 5:47 am
 

Wednesday evening rumor roundup

Hot Stove Wednesday wasn't quite as exciting as Tuesday's rumor-mongering at the GM meetings, but hey, we did get a trade and an overpaid free agent signing, so it wasn't all that different. Here's some of the other stuff that went down -- or has been talked about -- 'round Orlando and beyond.

• The Rockies are interested in Jon Garland, but aren't looking to offer much beyond a one-year deal. (Sports Illustrated 's Jon Heyman via Twitter )

• The Nationals are one of "six or eight" teams to have talked with Twins free agent starter Carl Pavano. (Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post )

• The Brewers hope to extend second baseman Rickie Weeks, who will be a free agent following the 2011 season. (Tom Haudricourt of the Journal Sentinel )

• Jorge de la Rosa will move quickly on signing, preferably signing before the Cliff Lee sweepstakes is wrapped up. He'll jump on an offer from the Nationals or Pirates if the terms are right. (Troy Renck of the Denver Post )

• The Rockies have been aggressive in Orlando with trades and free agents. The team has interest in Oakland third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff. (Renck via Twitter)

• Miguel Olivo is drawing interest from the Rangers, White Sox and Blue Jays. (FOXSports.com's Jon Paul Morosi )

• The White Sox are interested in Hideki Matsui and Johnny Damon to fill their need of a left-handed hitter, but aren't expected to make a move until after the Dec. 2 non-tender date. (Chicago Tribune 's Phil Rogers )

• The Phillies have done "extensive" groundwork on a deal for the White Sox's Carlos Quentin, who would replace Jayson Werth. (ESPN.com's Jayson Stark )

• Oakland, Toronto and Colorado have interest in Kansas City's Alex Gordon. (MLB.com's Dick Kaegel )

• Tsuyoshi Nishioka was officially posted on Wednesday (U.S. time), so the bidding will close at 5 p.m. Eastern on Tuesday. The Giants, Twins, Cardinals, Orioles, Mariners, Padres, Diamondbacks, Dodgers and Red Sox have all been mentioned by Japanese media as teams with interest. (YakyuBaka.com )

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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Posted on: November 12, 2010 3:33 pm
 

A's claim Encarnacion

Edwin Encarnacion The A's have claimed third baseman Edwin Encarnacion off of waivers from Toronto, the team announced on Friday.

Encarnacion hit .244/.305/.482 for the Blue Jays last season with 21 home runs and 51 RBI.

He finished a two-year contract signed in February of 2009, avoiding arbitration. The Reds traded him as part of the deal that brought Scott Rolen to Cincinnati at the trading deadline in 2009. He made $4.75 million last season and is arbitration eligible.

In June, the Blue Jays designated him for assignment, but then called him back up in early July.

On the last day of the season, he hit his 20th homer of the season and the 100th of his career. Encarnacion will be 28 in February.

The A's could non-tender Kevin Kouzmanoff, their third baseman last season. He led the team with 16 homers, but had 96 strikeouts and 24 walks in 586 plate appearances.

Encarnacion had 60 strikeouts in 367 plate appearances, but did have 29 walks. He is not as good as Kouzmanoff defensively.

Kouzmanoff made $3.1 million last season and is arbitration eligible.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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Posted on: September 12, 2010 8:38 pm
Edited on: September 12, 2010 8:43 pm
 

Report: A's to sign Iwamura

To say Akinori Iwamura's season was disappointing would be an understatement. He entered the year as Pittsburgh's highest-paid player, was banished to the minors after putting up a horrendous .182/.292/.267 line in 54 games, and finally was released on Friday.

It appears the Athletics are willing to take him on as a reclamation project, as the San Francisco Chronicle reports that they'll sign him Monday. The A's need another third baseman with Kevin Kouzmanoff sidelined and Jeff Larish, plucked off waivers from the Tigers on August 3, in a .174/.255/.348 death spiral since arriving in Oakland.

Iwamura, 31, was a standout player in Japan and showed in his first three years in Tampa Bay that he can play (.281 average with good defense), but the fact that he's Oakland's best option at this point is not a great sign for the A's.

-- David Andriesen

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Posted on: September 10, 2010 10:50 am
 

Power will be priority for A's

Coco Crisp
How many times have we heard that a team is "a bat or two away" from contending? The A's think they really are, and finding players with power will be their top priority this winter, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

The A's have by far the best ERA in the American League (3.55) and are a little below average in batting for average and getting on base (ninth in both). Where they fall clearly short is power. No team in baseball has hit fewer home runs, and they are second-worst in slugging percentage. Their top home run hitter, Kevin Kouzmanoff, has just 14. Their starters at first base, third base and designated hitter have combined for 32. No matter how well they pitch, that's not going to cut it.

"The game is changing. There aren't guys who can hit 50 homers, but you still have to have two guys in the lineup who are threats to hit the ball out of the ballpark," second baseman Mark Ellis said. "That would make everyone else better, too. But they're not easy to find."

General manager Billy Beane says he'll be looking, and Beane will have a little money to work with as $22 million comes off the books with Ben Sheets and Eric Chavez.

Adam Dunn, Paul Konerko, Carlos Pena, Jayson Werth and possibly David Ortiz (who has a club option) will be among the power hitters available this winter.

-- 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