Play Fantasy The Most Award Winning Fantasy game with real time scoring, top expert analysis, custom settings, and more. Play Now
 
Tag:Pepper
Posted on: September 14, 2011 9:46 am
 

Pepper: Writing on wall for Guillen



By Matt Snyder


Is there any question this is Ozzie Guillen's last season as the White Sox manager? I'd say no.

The latest report is that Guillen emailed White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf two weeks ago and texted general manager Kenny Williams Tuesday morning. He received replies from neither (Chicago Sun-Times). Granted, I've never been a major-league manager (I'm willing to give it a shot, if any GMs are interested), but I'm gonna go ahead and guess that being ignored when trying to correspond with your bosses is a pretty bad sign.

Remember, in recent weeks Guillen said he wanted to stay in Chicago, but not without a contract extension. And there was a report that indicated the relationship between Guillen and Williams had been irreparably damaged.

Guillen said he's ready for anything.

‘‘My family is ready for everything,’’ he said Tuesday (Chicago Sun-Times). ‘‘It’s like when a hurricane is coming and they say, ‘Hey, it’s Venezuela now, and it’s going to be in Miami in seven days.’ We pack everything, we have everything set up, for good or for bad.’’

The two cities he used in his example aren't just gathered at random. Venezuela is his home country. He also owns a home in Miami, but ... what else is there? Why, the Marlins, of course. A team Guillen helped coach to the 2003 World Series championship before being hired by the White Sox as manager. It's also a ballclub that is said to covet Guillen and is looking for a new manager this offseason before moving into a nice, new home.

It makes too much sense, doesn't it?

Tempers (kind of) flare in L.A.: So Dodgers reliever Hong-Chih Kuo threw an errant (and it appeared accidental) pitch near the head of Diamondbacks outfielder Gerardo Parra. And then Parra hit a home run and took his sweet old time starting his home run trot. And then Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis said a few words as Parra crossed the plate -- he looked more annoyed than angry, for whatever it's worth. A few Dodgers and Parra yelled back and forth while it appeared D-Backs manager Kirk Gibson said a few things, too, but then benches were warned and nothing else happened. I have to say, I'm with Ellis on this. I was watching live and sitting here thinking that it's just lame. Enough with the posturing. Play baseball.

Exit strategy? Potential new Astros owner Jim Crane has yet to be approved, even though it should have happened back in August. The approval process has been continually delayed and there are two separate camps of reports as to what the holdup is. One side says that Crane needs to accept a move to the American League West -- which would clear the way for season-long interleague play and likely an additional playoff team -- and the other says that this is not the specific holdup. Biz of Baseball wonders if Crane is just seeking a way out without being turned away by the MLB due to character concerns that have been raised during the approval process. In other words, if he backs out and uses not wanting to move to the AL as his reason, he was never turned down and saves face.

Braun accountable, even in victory: "Tonight was not a pretty game ... We didn't play well ... I think I probably played my worst 10 innings of baseball of the year ... I don't think we really deserved to win ... we really didn't play a good basball game." Those quotes are all cherry-picked from Ryan Braun's post-game comments (Brewers Blog). Oh, by the way, Braun hit a walk-off home run to win the game in the 11th. And in the parts of the above quotes I removed, Braun was saying to give all the credit to the pitching staff for keeping them in the game (the final score was 2-1). We're big fans of accountability here, so major points to Braun for not forgetting the rest of the game just because the team pulled out a victory. He could have easily only focused on being the hero in the 11th, instead he owned up to playing poorly for most of the night and instead wanted the pitchers to be viewed as the heroes of the game. That's an MVP teammate. While we're here, CBSSports.com's Scott Miller has a great feature on the Brewers. Check it out.

Great day for stat-heads: SeamHeads.com has now finished work on a Negro League database, so you can search for stats from players like Oscar Charleston, who by many accounts was one of the best players to ever play the game -- he just never had a chance to do so on the big stage due to unfortunate bigotry.

Mauer understands backlash: Joe Mauer has made quite a few commercials in the past few years and he has received some criticism over them during this season -- easily the worst of his career. He said that he understands this and he's not going to take on any more commercials for the time being (StarTribune.com).

Some "Moneyball" reviews: Here's a glowing review of the upcoming movie ... and here's a not-so-great review (he does say it's entertaining, just questions the direction taken). While I greatly respect the work of both writers, I don't really care what anyone says. I'm seeing it. If I don't like it, that's on me. 

St. Louis North? The Chicago Sun-Times floats a rumor that has the Cubs landing Reds' general manager Walt Jocketty -- who used to be the Cardinals' GM -- and then bringing Tony La Russa to manage the Cubs ... and then signing free-agent-to-be Albert Pujols. Of course, the report only said "could" and mentioned it was a scenario floated only on the Cubs' end, not mentioning whether or not all three parties would be interested in this. I personally think I have a better shot at winning the lottery than this happening.

No surgery for Dickey: Mets starting pitcher R.J. Dickey has suffered from a partially torn plantar fascia most of the season, but it has subsided enough that he won't need surgery this offseason. (MLB.com)

Happy Anniversary: On this day 25 years ago, Bo Jackson launched his first career home run ... all 475 feet of it. Also, Hall of Famer Hank Greenberg made his major-league debut 81 years ago and on this day in 2008, Carlos Zambrano threw his only career no-hitter. If you'll recall, it was a game in Milwaukee against the Houston Astros, as a hurricane moved the series. (Hardball Times)

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 13, 2011 9:59 am
Edited on: September 13, 2011 10:13 am
 

Pepper: More to the Mets' 9/11 hats story?



By Matt Snyder


One big storyline that emerged in baseball Sunday night was the Mets not being allowed to wear first responder (NYPD, FDNY, etc.) hats during the national telecast on ESPN. They did wear them in pre-game festivities -- as seen above on Ronny Paulino -- but not during the actual game, per MLB rule.

It turns out, according to a report from the New York Post Tuesday, there may be more than initially met the eye. Reportedly, commissioner Bud Selig called the Mets Sunday night and was "irate" that the team threw Major League Baseball under the proverbial bus.

"[Selig] got embarrassed by it," a Mets official said (New York Post). "The game got moved into prime time because of 9/11, and [MLB] ended up getting embarrassed."

The report also notes that Joe Torre -- who was named as the person who ordered the Mets to not wear the hats -- said there was a league-wide memo sent out but nothing specifically about the Mets, nor was the message anything "heavy-handed."

And then there's this (New York Post):
But another source said Mets COO Jeff Wilpon was "back and forth" with the commissioner's office on the matter until the proverbial 11th hour, when it was decided the Mets, on the hook for a $25 million loan from MLB, shouldn't risk the wrath of Selig.
So, if all this is true, the Mets basically forced their players to comply and let the commissioner's office take the blame in nefarious manner -- even though they didn't want to risk the wrath of Selig?

It's hard to know who to trust here. It seems like there's blame to be placed in both camps, but the bottom line is the players should have just been allowed to wear the special hats. It's a hat. Don't give me slippery slope on this. It's the 10-year anniversary of 9/11 in New York City. That's a special circumstance. Whether it's Wilpon, Selig, Torre or any combination of the three, someone dropped the ball.

"Moneyball" venom: There's a story in the LA Times about the "Moneyball" movie coming out and how polarizing it is. One telling quote is how, after winning the World Series last season, Giants executive Tony Siegle said "so much for Moneyball" in celebration. Later in the article, Siegle cops to having never read the book. And here's the crux of my criticism with those criticizing "Moneyball." The book wasn't saying A's general manager Billy Beane invented sabermetrics (he didn't) or that he was reinventing the wheel (he wasn't). It was just a story about a GM trying to find a creative way to compete with a less than competitive payroll. And he did for several years. It doesn't claim he invented on-base percentage or that he's a genius. It's a story. A good one. Maybe read the book before you complain about it. Nothing drives me more crazy than hearing something like "Moneyball doesn't work." Moneyball is a book -- and now a movie -- not a strategy.

More McCourt hate? Click here and check out the picture. Notice the MLB produced a poster talking about a special promotion where all the teams are giving money to Stand Up To Cancer. Also note the asterisk and specific mention the Dodgers aren't giving to the charity. The Sons of Steve Garvey notes that the Dodgers are giving proceeds to their own cancer charity (ThinkCure) and this could just be another way of Selig's office to sleight McCourt's administration.

More Rays' financial woes: It's no secret the Rays have money troubles, despite a stellar on-field product for the past handful of seasons. Payroll was cut after last season and several guys who had previously been key pieces were either traded or walked via free agency. Still, things are tighter than ever. " ... we’ve clearly fallen short on our financial projections," principle owner Stuart Sternburg said (TampaBay.com). "We have to make some projections but I could not have projected our attendance would be down what it was. I don't think anybody would have thought that either. ... Nothing positive happened financially this year. We were last (in attendance going into the weekend). I hadn't even realized that. I didn't forecast last."

Berkman's leverage: Outfielder Lance Berkman has enjoyed a career renaissance with the Cardinals this season and reports have indicated he wants to stay put. In fact, several reports from the St. Louis area said the Cardinals didn't trade Berkman when he cleared waivers in the last week of August because they feared that would prevent them from retaining him. So it seemed like a pretty sure thing he'd stay put. Not so fast, tweets Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Strauss says it might not be a sure thing and that Berkman has leverage. Remember also, the Cardinals' payroll is going to be tight if they retain free-agent-to-be Albert Pujols.

'Man in White' travels to Minnesota? One of my favorite storylines of the season has been mocking those who really believe Jose Bautista and the Blue Jays are aided by a rogue sign stealer in Toronto. So, of course, since that story broke I make it a point to pass along whenever the Jays either don't hit well at home or explode on the road. And check this one out, courtesy of The Hardball Times: Bautista has seven career home runs in 34 plate appearances in Minnesota's Target Field. Justin Morneau, Joe Mauer, Denard Span, Ben Revere, Nick Punto and Tsuyoshi Nishioka have combined for 1,683 plate appearances in the Twins' new home. And they've combined for six home runs. Amazing. At his pace in that number of plate appearances, Bautista would hit 347 home runs.

Rangers staying in house: Some rumors have indicated the Rangers might be in on the Albert Pujols or Prince Fielder sweepstakes, but instead the Rangers are reportedly going to stick with Mitch Moreland at first base (MLB.com). It makes at least some sense. They'd be better served shoring up pitching -- All-Star starting pitcher C.J. Wilson is a free agent, too -- than worrying about beefing up an already potent offense. Plus, Moreland is only 26, really cheap and under team control for a while. If he further develops his power stroke (16 home runs and 21 doubles this year), he'll end up being a bargain.

No safety helmets for Philly: Despite second baseman Chase Utley suffering a concussion from being hit in the helmet by a pitch, the Phillies players are still declining to use a new, safer helmet model (Philly.com).

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 12, 2011 10:12 am
 

Pepper: Ortiz says it's time to panic



By C. Trent Rosecrans

The Wild Cards were all sewn up -- or so we thought.

While it appeared the Braves and Red Sox would cruise to the Wild Card (or the AL East title for Boston), but in the last week, things have gotten interesting. St. Louis swept Atlanta to move just 4.5 games behind Atlanta and Tampa Bay is now just 3.5 games behind the Red Sox as Boston finished a 1-6 road trip, including being swept by the Rays.

Still, there's not a whole lot of baseball left, the two favorites are still favored by mathematicians to hold onto their leads. So it's not time to panic, right?

"Hell yeah, you've got to panic at this point, but you're not going to do anything panicking but playing better," Boston's David Ortiz told reporters (Boston Herald). "Of course you're freaked out, you go on this road trip, 1-6, it's not good. We've got these guys breathing down our next and we're not in first place, either."

Give him credit, Ortiz is always entertaining and this time he's right. The team should worry about the Rays and can't get too worked up about it because panic doesn't help a team play any better. It's an interesting balancing act, playing with urgency, but not panic. Baseball's a tough game that's even tougher when you press.

Cuddyer's homer helped save teammate: Twins outfielder Michael Cuddyer hit two game-winning homers in a minor-league playoff series in 2001 to lead his team to a victory in the best-of-five series. If his team had lost the series, teammate Brad Thomas and his wife, Kylie, had already booked a flight home to Australia. The couple would have started its journey on American Airlines Flight 11 from Boston to Los Angeles on Sept. 11, 2001. With the win, Thomas and his wife had to stay for the next series.

"He credits me for saving his life," Cuddyer told MLB.com. "I mean, I don't know about that. It was just a twist of fate."

Thomas is currently on the Tigers' 60-day disabled list.

Cuddyer also wrote about the incident on FoxSports North.

Wainwright remembers: We all have our own personal stories about where we were on Sept. 11, 2001 -- I drove from Athens, Ga., to Washington, D.C., the day before to go to see PJ Harvey at the 9:30 Club on Sept. 10, 2001. I still have the ticket stub and a September 12, 2001, Washington Post to share with my kids some day. Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright was in New York for the Red Sox-Yankees game on Sept. 10, 2001, and then cancelled a morning meeting near the World Trade Center the next day in order to get on the road to Cooperstown with his brother. [St. Louis Post-Dispatch]

Waiting on Theo: Matt touched on this yesterday, but word is Tom Ricketts is willing to wait for his dream GM, Boston's Theo Epstein. While MLB looks down on major offseason announcements before the end of the World Series, those decisions happen all the time and are usually uncovered before the official announcement. However, there is a real wait if one of those interviewed and hired is still working. That could be the case with Boston's Epstein, reportedly Ricketts' top pick. If Epstein is in the least bit interested, Ricketts will wait. [Chicago Tribune]

Beckett to throw: Red Sox right-hander Josh Beckett will test his injured right ankle in a bullpen session Monday and could return to the rotation by the end of the week -- welcome news to the Red Sox. [Boston Herald]

Weeks to go slow: Rickie Weeks returned to the Brewers' lineup on Sunday, walking and being hit by a pitch in his only plate appearances and was taken out of the game after four innings. The team plans on taking it slow with him. The Brewers are off on Monday and manager Ron Roenicke said he would try to get Weeks back into the game on Tuesday and maybe increase his innings. Weeks missed six weeks after suffering a severe left ankle sprain. [Appleton Post-Crescent]

Cruz ready to return: The Rangers are in the closest playoff race in baseball, leading the Angels by 2.5 games and they get some good news on Tuesday when Nelson Cruz says he'll be ready to return from the disabled list. Cruz went on the DL on Aug. 30 with a strained left hamstring and ran in the outfield on Saturday. The Rangers don't have any minor-league affiliates still playing, so the team will activate Cruz without a rehab assignment. [MLB.com]

Zimmermann bored sitting out: Nationals right-hander Jordan Zimmermann hasn't pitched in two weeks and won't pitch in the final two weeks of the season. The good news is that next season he won't have an innings limit. With Zimmermann and Stephen Strasburg, the Nationals have the building blocks for a very good rotation. [Washington Post]

Prado struggling: An All-Star in 2010, Atlanta's Martin Prado his having a disappointing 2011. The 27-year-old super utility player is hitting .261/.307/.385 this season, well below the .307/.356/.454 line he put up in his first five seasons in the big leagues. The prolonged slump is costing him sleep, Prado told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Romine relishes chance: While Jesus Montero garnered headlines when he was called up, the Yankees have a better catching prospect, Austin Romine. With injuries to Russell Martin and Francisco Cervelli, Romine made his big-league debut on Sunday. Romine had thought his season was over after Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre finished its season, but Joe Girardi needed a replacement and got in touch with Romine on Saturday. Girardi hadn't been able to get in touch with the catcher, so he had to go to the Angels' clubhouse to talk to Romine's brother, Andrew, an infielder with the Angles, to get a better number. Austin Romine replaced Montero in the ninth inning, catching Mariano Rivera, who recorded his 599th career save. [MLB.com]

ThunderBolts to White Sox: Just two years ago Dylan Axelrod was pitching for the Windy City ThunderBolts of the independent Frontier League. On Wednesday, he'll be throwing in the Windy City again, but for the White Sox in place of former Cy Young winner Jake Peavy. [Chicago Tribune]

Mo Coco: Reds closer Francisco Cordero is willing to re-negotiate his $12 million option for 2012 and general manager Walt Jocketty told John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer that an extension is a "possibility." Cordero, a whipping boy in Cincinnati, has had an outstanding year, recording 32 saves with a 2.30 ERA with five blown saves. Since coming to the Reds in 2008, Cordero has 145 saves and 23 blown saves, converting 86 percent of his chances with a 2.94 ERA. The Reds don't have an obvious candidate to take over in the ninth inning if they decline his $12 million option. He was the team's highest-paid player in 2011 and his $12 million in 2012 would be the tied for the team's highest-paid player along with second baseman Brandon Phillips, who also has a $12 million option for 2012 that the team is expected to pick up.

Eat before you go: We see a report like this just about every year, but it's always a good reminder -- if you want your food handled properly before you eat it, you've got to make sure to do it yourself. [CBS Chicago]

Bourjos takes blame: We all have those people we know or work with that will never admit fault -- there's always some crazy excuse or reason something went wrong, and it's never their fault, it's some extenuating circumstance. The Angels' Peter Bourjos is not that guy. His error doomed the Angels on Sunday, and instead of complaining about the sun or anything, taking full responsibility for the play that killed his team. [Los Angeles Times]

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 9, 2011 10:48 am
 

Pepper: Is Rivera's sucessor Robertson?

Robertson

By Evan Brunell

Mariano's successor? The other day, I read a piece suggesting that the Yankees could theoretically sign Jonathan Papelbon in the offseason, have him set up Mariano Rivera's final year in town and then take over.

It's possible. But it's more probably that Rivera's successor is already on the team, and I'm not talking about Rafael Soriano.

“There are a lot of similarities there in how they throw their fastballs,” catcher Russell Martin told the New York Post when asked to compare Rivera and setup man David Robertson, who has broken through in a big way this season with a 1.23 ERA in 58 1/3 innings, striking out 89 and walking 31. That ERA is unsustainably low, but speaks to the impact the righty has had in the bullpen. Robertson is no Rivera -- who is? -- but those kind of strikeout numbers would work quite well in a closer's role. While Robertson walks a bit too much, that hasn't bothered other walk-prone closers such as Carlos Marmol, even if it increases the chances of an occasional blowup.

“Maybe that can happen a few years down the road,” Robertson said of replacing Rivera. “But I don’t have to worry about that. Mo’s not leaving. It would be cool to do [to be the closer]. But we have No. 42 and he ain’t leaving.”

Offended: Incoming Astros owner Jim Crane is "offended" by both the delay in being approved and the public perception of Crane -- especially when details of his divorce leaked out, invading his personal life. Crane also noted that his contract to buy the team expires on Nov. 30. (Houston Chronicle)

Power rankings: Four unlikely candidates to manage the Cubs top the latest power rankings on the subject. GMs Andrew Friedman, Billy Beane, Theo Epstein and Brian Cashman lead off the list that has a distinct Boston flavor to it. (Chicago Tribune)

No more I-Rod: Ivan Rodriguez likely won't catch for the remainder of 2011, as the Nats want to take a look at their future in Wilson Ramos and Jesus Flores. Rodriguez hopes to catch at least four more years. While that's a stretch, he should catch long enough to net hit No. 3,000 -- he's at 2,842. (Washington Post)

Doubles machine: Not only do Royals outfielders lead baseball in outfield assists by a wide margin, but each of them also has at least 39 doubles. That makes them the third team in baseball history to reach the feat, along with the 1998 Angels and 1932 Phillies. But both these teams had an outfielder with 39 doubles, with Melky Cabrera there already. So on his next one, the Royals will set history. Oh, and DH Billy Butler is two away from 40, so four players could reach the mark for K.C. That would be the fourth such time a team pulled that off. If they can all reach 42, it will be the first time ever a team has accomplished such a feat. (Rany on the Royals)

Braden shows up: Dallas Braden wasn't too keen on showing his face in the Oakland clubhouse after undergoing season-ending surgery in May, much to the chagrin of his teammates. GM Billy Beane interviewed and spoke to Braden, as the San Francisco Chronicle writes, leading to this quote from Braden on Beane's encouragement: "Makes you feel like less of a loser."

Alonso's story: Background stories about Cuban defectors always has two components: the harrowing departure from Cuba, plus how grateful the players are to be in the majors. Rather than being a cliche, it's a reminder of the challenges that one faces in life. Yonder Alonso is no exception, whose family bolted Cuba when he was 9 years old. (MLB.com)

More homers than walks: Prior to the season, 99 instances of 20-plus homers with less than 20 walks have occurred in baseball history. Now, eight are on pace to add to the total, with 50 coming since 1991 in further evidence how the game has changed and tilted toward power. Alfonso Soriano is on pace for his fourth such distinction, plus Mark Trumbo. Vernon Wells and J.J. Hardy both have the same amount of homers and walks, while Nelson Cruz, Adrian Beltre, Michael Morse and Adam Jones are threatening. (MLB.com)

Glad you left: Which teams are sick of seeing certain players? Here's a full list, led by Washington being crushed by Mike Stanton this season with a 1.087 slugging percentage. (The Hardball Times)

Too close: Baseball journalist Marcos Breton has admitted he grew too close to Miguel Tejada, which has given him unique perspective on his release instead of, as he put it, "[being] too harsh on some subjects for this column, and I promised myself to reflect on Tejada the next time someone stumbles publicly, as all of us will, when life inevitably brings us down to size." (Sacramento Bee)

Try, try again: Tim Wakefield will try yet again for win No. 200, currently slated to start Tuesday against the Blue Jays. (Providence Journal)

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 8, 2011 10:06 am
Edited on: September 8, 2011 10:38 am
 

Pepper: Marlins' new home could bring makeover



By Matt Snyder


While it certainly doesn't necessarily mean on-field success, the Florida Marlins are about to finally have their own home. After sharing a park with the NFL's Miami Dolphins since first taking the field in 1993, the Marlins will begin 2012 with a baseball-only facility in Miami. Wednesday, local media were given a tour of the facility and the Marlins took the opportunity to sing their own praises.

"This will be the first ballpark to come in on budget and on time in a long, long time," team President David Samson said (Sun-Sentinel.com). "There will not be overruns in this building. This building will come in at the $515 million mark, not one dollar over budget, [and] not one thing taken out of the building. As a matter of fact, we have been able to add things because the workers have been so efficient and it has been built so well."

Samson also noted that he's personally sat in every single seat and went with the proverbial "there's not a bad seat in the house" sentiment.

So the Marlins' fans will finally have a place that seems like a real home instead of some rental where a baseball game seems foreign and unwelcome. Attendance will surely increase (the Marlins average less than 19,000 fans per game this year -- and that's paid, not how many actually show up), but what about the problem that has plagued the Marlins for years: Payroll?

"I know it will be at levels previously unseen," Samson said (Sun-Sentinel.com).

Interesting.

The time might be now to start ramping up the baseball excitement, south Florida.

Real life 'Wild Thing:' If you like baseball and don't love Charlie Sheen's character -- Ricky "Wild Thing" Vaughn -- in "Major League," well, you might have as many screws loose as Sheen. In the movie, Vaughn earned the nickname after loading the bases with walks on 12 straight pitches and then later set a record for wild pitches in an inning. Embattled Yankees starting pitcher A.J. Burnett didn't do it in an inning, but he has now joined rare company with his wild pitches. With three Wednesday, he became the first pitcher since 1919 to have eight games with at least three wild pitches (Baseball-Reference blog).

A better Johan? Mets ace Johan Santana has been sidelined all season after having a surgical procedure in 2010. But he's getting closer and closer to possibly seeing some relief work this September, just to get him back on the mound for an inning or two. And get this: Mets' pitching coach Dan Warthen said Santana's stuff is better right now than it was last season (when he had a 2.98 ERA in 199 innings). "Better velocity," Warthen said (NYDailyNews.com). "The arm was in the same slot each and every time. He wasn't searching for a place that didn't hurt."

Emotional season: Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos came to America in 2004 to chase his dream of playing Major League Baseball. But through the long visa process, his family had never been able to get here to see him play in person ... until this season. His parents recently secured a 10-year visa and finally got to see their son play a big-league game in person this homestand (Washington Times).

Rock and a hard place: "Moneyball" is coming to theaters soon, as I'm sure most of us have seen the previews during commercial breaks on TV by now. For those uninformed, it's a film adaptation of the book about A's general manager Billy Beane trying to build a team without the resources of a large-market club (or even a middle-market one). Beane hasn't really said anything about it, and Wednesday he explained why: "The hard thing for me has been figuring out how to walk this fine line," Beane said (Mercurynews.com). "If I embrace all this movie stuff, it looks like I'm really digging it. But if I put my hand up and say, 'No,' I look like I'm distancing myself from it. There's no playbook for this."

Old Style at Wrigley: Pabst brewing company nearly nixed a deal with Wrigley Field, where Cubs fans have been consuming Old Style beer since 1950, but tradition won out -- as the contract was extended through 2013. As a Cubs fan I can tell you that it's tradition to buy one and suck it down each time you attend a game -- even if it tastes like crap (it kind of does). (Chicago Breaking Sports)

Milwaukee loves 'Tony Plush:" Brewers outfielder Nyjer Morgan has become an unlikely popular player this season, and the T-shirt depicting his alter-ego -- "Tony Plush" -- outsells all other Brewers' T-shirts three-fold (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel). I wonder if Chris Carpenter wants one (click here if you don't get it)? I kid, but it would at the very least be a funny prank for a teammate to get him one.

Wild beats Man: A squirrel broke into the Indians' bullpen Wednesday night and closer Chris Perez attempted to capture it with his jacket. He lost, as the squirrel ran up the bullpen wall and jumped into the center-field bushes (Detroit Free-Press).

Happy Anniversary: On this day 25 years ago, Rafael Palmeiro made his major-league debut (Hardball Times). He'd go on to accumulate 3,020 hits, 569 home runs, nearly 2,000 RBI, a Gold Glove in a season when he only played 28 games in the field and one embarrassing display in front of Congress that has now been immortalized by Larry David.

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

Posted on: September 7, 2011 11:01 am
Edited on: September 7, 2011 11:04 am
 

Pepper: Crane's purchase of Astros in doubt

Crane
By Evan Brunell

Limbo: The saga of Jim Crane as Astros owner continues to take a strange path, and that path may be headed toward a rejection.

BizofBaseball.com outlines the reasons behind why the deal has stalled... and why approval may be a pipe dream at this point. You'll have to click through to get the full breakdown, but the main takeaway is that Crane shares some sobering similarities with Dodgers owner Frank McCourt, and we all know how that turned out.

For one, Crane had a contentious divorce himself that ended up in the papers back in 2000, where he reportedly came to blows with his son. Crane's history in court is also checkered, as allegations of racism and war-profiteering are very real concerns, and baseball understandably may not be interested in being affiliated with such a person, especially one whose companies were in federal court 130 times in 15 years.

Current Houston owner Drayton McLane expects a vote to be passed at any minute. But it won't come this week, and might not come at all unless commissioner Bud Selig and all 29 current owners can get on board. But even that might be rendered moot, as Crane is reportedly having a hard time keeping his investment group together, which is large and has investments as low as $25 million committed. Eventually, these investors may tire of having their money tied up in a venture that looks less and less ideal.

Time for a four-man: For a few years now, I've strongly believed that the best rotation would be that of four men plus a fifth starter who could start every now and then. I've blogged on it before, and now Jeff Passan comes out in favor of a four-and-swing rotation, even as teams move to six-man rotations these days. (Yahoo! Sports)

Managers of the year: You know it's September when you start seeing articles on who should win certain awards. Today, two candidates for manager of the year are discussed: The Angels' Mike Scioscia by the Orange County Times while Ron Roenicke of the Brewers gets love from the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

Return of Strasburg: The return of Stephen Strasburg was highly anticipated, and the phenom delivered Tuesday night with a dazzling performance. Here's a pitch F/X review of the outing. The biggest takeaway? Strasburg is throwing a new changeup. (Fangraphs)

Finally: It took three years, but Dustin McGowan has finally moved past all his injuries, surgeries and rehab. For the first time since July 2008, McGowan pitched in a game when he threw four innings Tuesday night. He wasn't lights out, but that's besides the point. (Toronto Star)

Done in Pittsburgh? Paul Maholm is shut down for the year due to injury, which may bring an end to his Pirates career. The club holds a club option, but it's anyone's guess if the option is exercised. (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review)

Venable a Bear: Wil Venable's brother has made the Chicago Bears football team. Winston was an undrafted free agent, but made the squad on special teams. (North County Times)

Beer me: If you're looking for a good beer, give AT&T Park in San Francisco a try, a destination that received a glowing beer review. (Fangraphs)

Montero wants to return: 'Zona catcher Miguel Montero will be in his final year of arbitration next season before becoming a free agent. The backstop has indicated his desire to stay, and the team has reciprocated, with both sides likely to discuss an extension after the season. (Arizona Republic)
 
Team USA
: Brett Jackson won't be called up to the Cubs this season, as he will instead play for Team USA in the Pan American Games. With a solid spring training, Jackson should cement himself as the Cubs' center fielder. (Chicago Sun-Times)

Back in L.A.: Rod Barajas has found a home in Los Angeles and is interested in returning. The Dodgers may disagree, though, and may prefer to go young at the position next year. (Los Angeles Times)

Social day: Speaking of L.A., it's hard to argue against the fact that the Dodgers have taken the biggest step back in public relations this year. As an attempt to reconnect with fans, the team is holding a Social September campaign, a month-long campaign that will give fans the ability to win prizes and interact with the team. (MLB.com)

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

Posted on: September 6, 2011 10:37 am
 

Pepper: Capping Strasburg's 2012 innings

Strasburg

By Evan Brunell

Inning limit: As Stephen Strasburg prepares to dazzle baseball with his skills Tuesday night in his much-anticipated return from Tommy John surgery, the question arises as to exactly how many innings the Nats can get out of its presumptive ace next season.

As the Washington Times writes, Washington determines inning limits on an individual basis, taking into account "their age, conditioning, innings in the previous season and big- league innings before the injury." For example, Jordan Zimmermann was shut down at 161 1/3 innings this season, the season after his own Tommy John surgery. That represented a 20 percent increase over his previous career-high set in 2009, which is a traditional barometer in baseball.

Assuming the same 20 percent increase, Strasburg would throw 147 innings in 2012, up from 2010's 123 2/3 innings between the majors and minors. That limit is based off his previous high, not off any complications from the surgery, which could factor in -- although other pitchers have cracked 200 innings a year after surgery, so that shouldn't hold Strasburg back. Washington won't make any type of determination until spring training, which is the smart move. Bank on a cap similar to Zimmermann's 160, but that could always change if the Nats find themselves in a postseason race down the stretch.

Mattingly eager
: Don Mattingly, skipper of the Dodgers, is eager to see Strasburg at work against the Dodgers.  "He's created a buzz, that's for sure, last year, and [he] continues to," Mattingly told MLB.com. "And he's produced. When he's pitched, he's pitched well."

Span back: The concussed Span is back with the Nationals after resting at home in Tampa for the past week. Span, who suffered the injury on June 3 and later hit the disabled list retroactive to Aug. 3, still harbors hope of returning this season. "I do truly believe that I will be back on the field," Span told MLB.com. "When? I don't know. But I will be back out there. If things go good, I would like to go into the offseason having played in some games here. I'd rather do that than go into the offseason not playing at all."

It's always interesting to hear a player's take on concussions, as it remains a relatively new (at least, as far as admitting the injury and properly diagnosing it goes) injury and one that is still undergoing plenty of research. Here's Span's take:

"It's not a normal injury," he said. "Sometimes you start wondering if people believe what you're telling them about how you feel. So mentally, it's little things like that. You know how this game is and all masculine sports -- everybody feels that if you're not bleeding, you should go out there and play. And I tried doing that, so it's not like I didn't try. So that's been tough for me."

Retirement? Hideki Okajima doesn't know what his future will hold, but it's definitely not Boston. Despite pitching well in Triple-A after a failed early-season stint with the Red Sox, Okajima hasn't returned since being outrighted off the 40-man. Once a strong setup man, the ensuing years haven't been kind to the Japanese left-hander, but he didn't help himself by saying he'd rather remain in Pawtucket than return to Boston when he was first demoted back down to Triple-A.

Now, Okajima isn't sure what type of offers he will get from other clubs in the winter, but wouldn't rule out a return back to Japan or even retirement.

"I didn't expect to be in this situation, but this is reality," he told the Providence Journal. "I am here. It's obviously very disappointing to be in this situation in this point in the year, but this is reality and this is where I belong right now. I've accepted that fact and just have to rethink how I approach the game so I can be where I want to be next season."

Ziegler adjusting: It took some time for the former A to adjust to life as a Diamondback, both with the transition to the NL and trying to conform to Arizona's philosophy of varying times to the plate to help control the running game. He hasn't allowed a run or walk in his last 4 1/3 innings over six games, stranding eight baserunners. "The National League style of ball is different and it took a little getting used to," Ziegler told MLB.com. "Hitters are more aggressive early in the count and it made a difference just in how I had to approach each at-bat."

9/11: The Yankees won't be in the city for the 10th anniversary of terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center on Sept. 11 this Sunday, so will hold a ceremony on Wednesday. Click through to read what the ceremony will hold. (MLB.com)

Furcal wants to return: Rafael Furcal hopes to return to the Cardinals after the year, a prospect St. Louis is hoping comes to pass. The Cards have a busy offseason on their hands, so Furcal may have to wait, but given the shortstop's brittle body, isn't expected to command a significant deal. Ideally, the Cards would ink Furcal for one season on an incentive-laden contract. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Social media: After being part of one of the more controversial plays -- and certainly the most controversial in replay history thus far -- the Marlins' Bryan Peterson discussed the play for a half-hour on Twitter before calling it quits when tweets got derogatory. It's incredible how fast the social media revolution has hit baseball, as now players are taking to Twitter to discuss controversial plays with the fanbase. That would have been unheard of five years ago. (MLB.com)

Drafting time: Baseball players take their fantasy sports seriously. Just check out this photo Matt Kemp tweeted of the Dodgers' fantasy football draft. (Kemp's Twitter)

Rookie time: The Marlins called up third baseman Matt Dominguez as part of September callups. It's the first stint in the bigs for Dominguez, who was considered a heavy favorite to open the year as the starting third baseman. He won't play extensively down the stretch, but will be showcasing himself to be next season's starting third baseman. (MLB.com)

Good news: The Mets got encouraging reports on two injured players integral to the team. Johan Santana is proceeding on pace and will throw on Friday in a minor-league game. With playoffs likely over after the weekend, that would line up Santana's next stint to come in the majors, where he'd throw two or three innings. Meanwhile, Ike Davis participated in baseball activities all weekend pain-free. Doctors still need to sign off on his ankle, but it appears as if he will be 100 percent for spring training. (ESPN New York)

Speaking of... Speaking of Davis, here's some more stuff on the Mets first baseman, who believes he won't need surgery on his ankle. "The bottom line is there are gonna be some effects from this my whole life," Davis told the New York Post. "Either arthritis or something else later on, but as long as it's not sharp pain, [I can play]." While doctors are expected to sign off on his ankle, Davis says it's a day-to-day thing at this point, so surgery remains possible.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 2, 2011 9:40 am
 

Pepper: Royals could resemble Brewers soon

Hosmer
By Evan Brunell

Promising turnaround: The Royals figure to lose at least 90 games, but the chatter in baseball remains overwhelmingly positive for Kansas City, who is drawing comparisons to Milwaukee.

Boasting the best farm team in the bigs, K.C. has already begun integrating its young players into the team, especially on offense where the Royals have a brand-new infield. Shortstop Alcides Escobar kicked off the year with the Royals after coming over from Milwaukee in the Zack Greinke trade, while Eric Hosmer received the first minor-league promotion at first base. Mike Moustakas followed soon to play the hot corner, while Johnny Giavotella just came up to man second.

Greinke, a former Royal, faced Hosmer in a rehab start in April and remarked that it was like facing a 10-year veteran.

“You probably know this,” Greinke told Sam Mellinger of the Kansas City Star. “But Eric Hosmer is really good. I mean, really good.”

Greinke is now with the Brewers, a team Mellinger says could be how the Royals look like in a few years if and when their young pitching prospects start bearing fruit.

The offense seems to have it all -- two defensive linchpins in Escobar and catcher Salvador Perez, home-run threats in Hosmer and Moustakas, and a capable bat in Giavotella. And we haven't even talked about the resurgent Alex Gordon in left field, or the fine season that Melky Cabrera has turned in. Yep, baseball in K.C. is looking sharp.

Going yard: The 1,000th career hit for Jeff Francouer was a home run. "He told us he was going to get it in his first at-bat and he did, he didn't mess around with it," manager Ned Yost told MLB.com.

Baby giraffe: Brandon Belt has gained a nickname -- that of "Baby Giraffe." Well, he met the real thing when Six Flags Discovery Kingdom named its newborn giraffe after Belt, of which you can see pictures on Belt's blog. (A Veteran and a Rook)

MVP pitcher? Cole Hamels disagrees with my assessment that a pitcher should be eligible for -- and potentially win -- the MVP, calling the Cy Young Award the pitcher's version.

"We only play once every five days and I don’t know how much we can affect a team by winning all 33 or 34 starts because you still have to win 90 something games to make the postseason," Hamels told the Dan Patrick Show, via SportsRadioInterviews.com. You need an everyday player to really go out there and play 140 to 150 games to really be a sorta MVP candidate.”

My comeback? Don't look at games played. Look at at-bats. A hitter will generally receive roughly 600 plate appearances a year, while a pitcher will face a few hundred more hitters over the course of a season. Position players may play in significantly more games, but pitchers impact the games they pitch in far more than a hitter. It all balances out.

Bryce running: Bryce Harper, on the disabled list for Double-A, ran for the first time since straining his hamstringo on Thursday. The team is hopeful he can participate in the minor-league postseason. (Washington Post)

Baseball in the Netherlands: The Dutch look to be in prime position to host a baseball game in 2014, with the Netherlands preparing to submit a bid for a game to be played in Hoofddorp, a small city outside of Amsterdam. You don't hear much about baseball and the Netherlands, but interestingly enough, it's considered "the baseball powerhouse of Europe," Alex Remington writes. (Fangraphs)

Walk angry: Adrian Gonzalez struck out on a called strike to end the Yankees-Red Sox game on Thursday, with New York coming away with a victory after Mariano Rivera loaded the bases in the ninth inning. "That pitch was down, I should still be hitting. That's all I have to say," he told the Boston Globe. Maybe, but Gonzalez shouldn't have swung at two painfully obvious balls. For someone with his plate discipline, he sure looked antsy up at the plate.

Banged-up Sox: J.D. Drew's return to Boston figures to be delayed at least a week, but Kevin Youkilis could return as early as Friday. Another injured Sox player, Clay Buchholz, made 35 throws from 60 feet and reported no progress with his back. Buchholz's return may not happen until the playoffs, but if he can come back, it's a major shot in the arm. (Boston Globe)

Hobbled Yanks: Mark Teixeira had to leave Thursday's game with a bruised right knee after being hit by a pitch, and he looks as if he will miss a few games, the New York Post writes. Alex Rodriguez, meanwhile, is hopeful he can rejoin the starting lineup on Friday but admitted he just isn't sure to the Post.

Big step: Adam Wainwright will throw his first bullpen session shortly after undergoing Tommy John surgery. The season is lost for the Cards right-hander, but he can get himself ready to go for the 2012 season. It's possible that if a St. Louis minor-league affiliate goes deep into the playoffs that he could make a rehab start before baseball shuts down. (MLB.com)

Under the knife: Twins top prospect Kyle Gibson will wrap up a disappointing year by undergoing Tommy John surgery. Gibson was expected to win a rotation spot at some point during the year, but now Minnesota will have to cast its eye to 2013 for any significant production out of the first-rounder. (Minnesota Star Tribune)

Backpacking: A new trend is emerging in baseball as part of an old one. The junior member of a bullpen has always been expected to haul a bag full of snacks, drinks and pain medications to the bullpen. Lately, however, the bag has morphed into gear designed to embarrass the player -- a Hello Kitty backpack -- for example. The New York Times looks at the increasing trend.
 
For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com