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Tag:Phil Hughes
Posted on: September 22, 2011 10:33 am
 

Pepper: Moneyball the talk of baseball

Scott Hatteberg

By C. Trent Rosecrans

With the Moneyball movie, I've gone from skeptical to excited to disappointed to indifferent to cautiously optimistic -- and I still haven't seen it.

It's all anyone's talking about, of course, even though we do have two good races going for the wild card right now, the tale of a team that lost in the first round of the playoffs is apparently more interesting because Brad Pitt is involved. Pitt, who usually graces the cover of supermarket checkout magazines, is even on the cover of Sports Illustrated this week. I don't expect to see him on the front of Baseball America, but I wouldn't be shocked if he were.

Or at least those of us with keyboards. I've heard reviews all over the board -- from those too close who go against the grain and hate everything to those who are indifferent and those who loved it. I've heard people named in the book (and movie) who thought it was awful and a complete work of fiction and others who show up as characters who say it does a great job of showing what it was like. It just goes to show that perception differs much more than reality.

One of those who says good things about it is Scott Hatteberg, who is played by Chris Pratt in the movie (both are pictured above, with the real-life Hatteberg on the right).

"It caused the hair to rise on the back of my neck," Hatteberg told Baseball Prospectus' John Perrotto.

When I covered Hatteberg, he was one of my favorite guys to interview because of his insight to the game -- and his outside interests. I ran into him at a Wilco concert once and we'd often talk music and movies. He's also extremely intelligent and while I used to say I could see him as a manager (and still could), now he's working in the A's front office and I could easily see him as a general manager.

Hatteberg's one of the reasons I want to see the movie, with the portrayal of scouts as simpletons relying on outdated methods to judge players and the oversimplification of saber metric principals as reasons I'm skeptical. 

The scene in the preview with David Justice having to put money in a Pepsi machine is the one that makes me cringe the most -- it's total fiction, as Daniel Brown of the San Jose Mercury News points out in this handy true-false scorecard on the movie -- and makes me wonder if I'll be one of those watching just to point out inaccuracies as opposed to just sitting back and trying to enjoy the movie as a whole. Sometimes that's tough -- any time I see a press conference where reporters start clapping usually make me hate just about the best of movies. A little knowledge on a  subject can help when enjoying a movie, but more info can totally ruin it.

Either way, I guess they'll get my money and isn't that all that matters?

Just a touch: One of the biggest differences between the movie and the book is that Paul DePodesta didn't want his name used, so instead there's a fictionalized character, Peter Brand, who plays the DePodesta part. While Jonah Hill doesn't resemble DePodesta physically, his character hits the nail on the head, the Los Angeles Times' Bill Plaschke writes.

Monty got a raw deal: Even if it appears NotDePodesta was portrayed well in the movie, its main villain, Grady Fuson is not portrayed accurately, according to Mac Engel of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. The foil for Billy Beane in the movie, Fuson -- now back with the A's -- is portrayed as a bit of a dope and dinosaur. In the movie, Beane even fires Fuson, when in fact Fuson was hired away by the Rangers, something that Beane was not happy about at the time.

Strange: The Dodgers are a mess, but that may not preclude them from making some big waves in the offseason, Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reports. If the Dodgers are in play, that suddenly makes them a team to watch for either of the two big free agent first basemen, Prince Fielder or Albert Pujols. The team could also look to lock up Matt Kemp.

So fast, so numb: Of the 30 teams that have won at least 100 games from 1980 to 2010, only four have won the World Series -- the Yankees in 1998 and 2009, the 1986 Mets and the 1984 Tigers. Of those 30, only 11 made the World Series.  Since 1986, three teams with fewer than 88 wins have won the Series -- the 2006 Cardinals (83), 2000 Yankees (87) and 1987 Twins (85). The Phillies (98) and the Yankees (95) are the only two teams with a shot at 100 wins this season. [San Francisco Chronicle]

Sitting still: Blue Jays rookie Brett Lawrie won't play again this season after breaking his right middle finger on Wednesday. Lawrie suffered the injury before Wednesday's game, fielding ground balls. [MLB.com]

Binky the doormat: Cubs manager Mike Quade says he thinks he'll be back in 2012. [Chicago Sun-Times]

Departure: Although unlikely to return to the Orioles, Vladimir Guerrero wants to return in 2012, and beyond. Guerrero would like to play "two or three" more years, he told the Baltimore Sun. Guerrero is three hits away from all-time Dominican hit-leader, Julio Franco, who has 2,586 hits. He's also just one homer away from 450.

Finest worksong: Cardinals hitting coach Mark McGwire says the team's communication has been a key feature to its offense. The team has stressed that players need to be in the dugout talking after at-bats instead of going straight to the video room. [St. Louis Post-Dispatch]

Endgame: Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramirez will explore free agency, even if the Cubs pick up their part of the $16-million mutual option, which is unlikely anyway. [Chicago Sun-Times]

Moral kiosk: Marlins president David Samson tried to help the victim of a traffic accident while on his way to the team's new park on Wednesday. Samson was lauded for his attempts to help the victims, but he deflected any praise. [Miami Herald]

Everybody hurts: Yankees right-hander Phil Hughes was scratched from his scheduled start against the Rays on Wednesday and the rest of his season is in doubt. An MRI revealed his back spasms were actually inflammation from a herniated disk he first suffered in 2004. Hughes may be done for the season, but the team hopes he can return as soon as this weekend. [New York Post]

Hairshirt: The new Marlins logo received "mixed" reviews, according to the Miami Herald. That sounds generous. My favorite comment from my twitter feed was that it looked like someone "vomited Skittles." Former Marlin Dan Uggla was asked about his opinion of the new logo and said he wasn't a big fan. When asked more specifically what was wrong with it, he answered "everything."

The one I love: While the Marlins are going in a totally new direction for their new logo, the Blue Jays are apparently going back to the past for their new logo. Don't expect too many complaints (although there will be some, it's the internet, there are always complaints). [The Score]

New test leper: Because of MLB's relation with the Dominican winter league, Manny Ramirez will not be eligible to play in his native land this winter as he'd hoped. [ESPN.com]

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: August 26, 2011 1:05 am
 

3 Up, 3 Down: Gonzalez's power binge continues

Gonzalez

By Evan Brunell

3 UpAdrian Gonzalez, Red Sox: Including Wednesday night, Adrian Gonzalez homered on three consecutive pitches, with the latter two coming in the first two at-bats of Thursday's game, helping pace the Red Sox to a 6-0 victory. Gonzalez's second homer of the night was estimated at 448 feet, just one foot less than Jacoby Ellsbury's blast off of Felix Hernandez in July for the longest Sox homer of the season. A-Gon now has 23 homers on the year, five in the last three games. Before Tuesday, he hadn't homered since July 30. Gonzalez finished 2 for 4 with three RBI.

Jeremy Hellickson, Rays: Jeremy Hellickson twirled a beaut on Thursday, shutting down the Tigers 2-0 by going seven strong, giving up two earned runs, a walk and six hits. He struck out seven, but four of those came in the same inning. That was made possible by Austin Jackson opening the top of the third with a strikeout, reaching first on a wild pitch. Ramon Santiago, Delmon Young and Victor Martinez all then followed with whiffs, all four of them whiffing. The rookie's ERA was further shaved to 3.01, and it's difficult to imagine he doesn't walk away with the Rookie of the Year award.

Russell Martin, Yankees: Martin had a game to remember on Thursday, going 5 for 5 with two home runs. The backstop has been a zero on offense since the first several days of the season, but has heated up the past week, with another strong game coming last Friday. Between these two games, Martin's OPS has skyrocketed to .761 on the year, up from .689 on Aug. 16. That's a fast turnaround in OPS for someone who has played the entire season.



Phil Hughes, Yankees: The Yankees won 22-9, so there were plenty of lousy A's players who took the mound and blew up. In fact, all six Oakland pitchers in the game gave up at least one run, led by Bruce Billings' 1 1/3-inning relief effort, giving up seven earned runs. But we're profiling Hughes here, who took a major step back in his return from a mysterious drop in velocity that saw him knocked around in April. After four straight strong starts, Hughes gave up six runs in 2 2/3 innings to the punchless A's, who rapped out seven hits despite grabbing no walks and whiffing five times. Hughes failed to capitalize after a poor A.J. Burnett start that might have seen New York trim its rotation back to five men and boot Burnett. But now, who knows?

Adam Lind, Blue Jays: It was a golden sombrero day for Lind, who whiffed four times in five hitless trips to the plate. Lind also went 0-for-4 on Thursday and is mired in a slump over his past several games and in the month overall, with his OPS dropping from .807 to start August down to .749 by game's end, unable to solve the Royals, who started Jeff Francis. Lind had come back strong from a dispiriting 2010, but thanks to the slump, his bounceback year looks far less impressive than it did earlier in the season.

Tyler Clippard, Nationals: Fangraphs has two statistics for relief pitchers, called shutdowns and meltdowns, that is essentially saves and blown saves for relievers as a whole, allowing for better comparison. Coming into Thursday's game, Clippard had 34 shutdowns and six meltdowns, which is an excellent ratio. Well, you can add a meltdown to that statistic, as Clippard gave up three earned runs in just 2/3s of an inning against Arizona, allowing the Diamondbacks to pad their 2-1 lead to 5-1 in a game they would eventually win 8-1.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: August 2, 2011 11:50 am
 

Hughes could lose rotation spot with Yankees

Hughes

By Evan Brunell

On Tuesday night, Phil Hughes (pictured) will draw the ball for the Yankees against the White Sox. He'll do so as a member of a six-man rotation, as manager Joe Girardi wants to keep Ivan Nova in the rotation.

Nova was demoted to the minors after his July 1st start despite posting a 4.12 ERA. He returned to the majors to help out with a pitching crunch on Saturday, allowing just two runs in seven innings against the Orioles. That was enough for Girardi, who decided to go with a six-man rotation... albeit not for long, as the New York Daily News says.

After this upcoming Monday's off day after the pivotal weekend series in Boston, the Yankees are expected to revert back to a five-man rotation, and Hughes might be the odd man out in favor of Nova.

"Competition is a good thing," Girardi said. "I think it brings out the best in people so, I think they’re both working hard, going about their business, approaching the games the way they need to approach it.”

Hughes' struggles this year have been well-documented; he turned from an elite setup man in 2009 to a solid starter last season with a 4.31 ERA in 176 1/3 innings. This year, however, the 25-year-old was beyond bombed in his first three starts with decreased velocity on his fastball, running up a 13.94 ERA before he was stuck on the disabled list with a phantom injury to figure things out.

Hughes' velocity recovered and he has made four starts since. While one was a whitewashing, the other three have been solid enough, giving him an overall 5.48 mark since his return. That's not near enough to justify holding onto his spot, not when Hughes could become a big part of the bullpen moving forward. The Tuesday start should have a major influence on the decision, but Girardi noted Hughes' experience in the bullpen when discussing the issue.

“Let’s see how it goes through doing what we’re doing here," Girardi said. "See how the guys are throwing, and let’s see what our needs are. I don’t think one thing’s going to determine, but you’ve got to look at what your needs are, who’s throwing the ball well and what we need to do. ... If they both throw the ball the way we want them to, then decisions will have to be difficult on what we do."

Nova is expected to draw the ball on Thursday and put forth his own bid for remaining in the rotation.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: July 27, 2011 3:39 pm
 

Yankees have best chance at Ubaldo

By Danny Kobler

Of all the teams that showed interest in Rockies ace Ubaldo Jimenez -- and there were a lot -- the Yankees have the best chance of actually landing him, according to major-league sources.

The Rockies are still telling teams that they don't need to trade Jimenez, who is 27 years old and is signed to a team-friendly contract that could run through 2014. But it's clearer than ever that the Rockies are willing to make a deal, with the Reds and possibly the Red Sox as other teams that match up well enough to get a deal done.

The Rangers showed signficant interest in Jimenez early on, but sources said Wednesday that they were all but out now, in large part because the teams just don't match up on the value placed on prospects. Another impediment to a Rockies-Rangers deal is the lingering frustration over last year's failed talks for Michael Young, but it appears the bigger problem was a lack of a match on prospects.

Rockies general manager Dan O'Dowd said earlier this month that he would require "a Herschel Walker-type deal" to trade Jimenez, but it appears that O'Dowd would be willing to accept something less than that, perhaps along the lines of deals that were made in recent months for Matt GarzaZack Greinke and Cliff Lee.

The Yankees have basically declared top prospect Manuel Banuelos off-limits in talks, but they have enough depth that they could put together an attractive package without him. O'Dowd is said to want three or four players in return for Jimenez, and it's thought that some combination of Jesus Montero, Austin Romine, Dellin Betances, Ivan Nova or Phil Hughes could convince the Rockies to make a deal.

The Reds also have enough prospects to make a trade work, but they have indicated a strong reluctance to deal catcher Devin Mesoraco, the prospect who most interests the Rockies.

Talks with the Red Sox apparently haven't advanced as far, but it's believed that they would need to build a package around pitcher Kyle Weiland.

Other teams that showed early interest in Jimenez include the Tigers and Blue Jays, but the chances of a deal with either of those teams appear far more remote at this point.

The Yankees' pieced-together starting rotation has performed well, but they still don't have a clear No. 2 starter behind ace CC Sabathia. The Yankees have looked at many available starting pitchers, including Hiroki Kuroda of the Dodgers and Wandy Rodriguez of the Astros, but Jimenez is the one guy who could slot in behind Sabathia in their rotation and make them more dangerous in October.

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Posted on: July 23, 2011 1:47 am
 

3 Up, 3 Down: Boomstick produces 8 RBI

Nelson Cruz

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Nelson Cruz, Rangers: Cruz had a career-high eight RBI in Texas' 12-2 victory over the Blue Jays. Each of Cruz's four at-bats resulted in runs scoring. He had an RBI single in the second, a three-run homer in the fourth, a two-run single in the fifth and another in the sixth. Cruz had just one RBI in his previous 11 games

Dan Uggla, Braves: As pinch hitter in the ninth inning, Uggla hit a 3-2 fastball from Nick Masset into the seats to break a tie against Cincinnati, leading the Braves to a 6-4 victory. Uggla has struggled mightily this season, but is starting to come on this month. In July, he's now hitting .279/.362/.639 with six homers and 12 RBI. It was Uggla's first career pinch-hit home run and the seventh homer in the game.

David Wright, Mets: In his first plate appearance in more than two months, Wright hit a double to drive in Justin Turner and give the Mets an early lead over the Marlins, later scoring the team's third run. In his fifth and final at-bat of the day, Wright's eighth-inning double scored Turner again to give the Mets the lead for good. His run on Daniel Murphy's double ended up as the deciding run of the team's 7-6 victory at Florida.


Dusty Baker, Reds: In the second inning of the Reds' eventual 6-4 loss to the Braves, Dusty Baker called for a suicide squeeze. Problem was it was a 2-2 count and Miguel Cairo had to try to bunt a ball that was way low and outside and was only able to foul it off, resulting in the second out of the inning. After an intentional walk to Ryan Hanigan, Bronson Arroyo struck out with the runner still at third. Baker said he thought the scoreboard was wrong and the count was 3-1.

Trevor Cahill, Athletics: Rough night for the A's right-hander at Yankee Stadium, where he gave up nine hits and 10 runs -- all earned -- in two-plus innings. With the outing, Cahill saw his ERA go from  3.16 to 3.77. Cahill pitched to five batters in the Yankees' nine-run third inning, exiting after a Eduardo Nunez singled to put two on with no outs and already three runs in. Michael Wuertz came in and allowed both runners to score before giving up a grand slam that belonged all to him.  Cahill started the season 6-0 with a 1.72 ERA in his first eight starts. Since then, he's 2-9 with a 5.35 ERA. The A's have now lost 11 straight to the Yankees.

Phil Hughes, Yankees: Easily lost in the slew of Yankees runs, right-hander Phil Hughes wasn't very good either. In his third start since coming off the disabled list, Hughes struggled, getting pulled after just 4 1/3 innings, allowing nine hits and seven runs, walking four. Hughes had allowed four runs and 10 hits through 11 innings in his first two starts since coming off the DL.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: July 14, 2011 8:34 pm
Edited on: July 15, 2011 12:59 am
 

Colon rocked by Jays

Bartolo Colon

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Has Bartolo Colon's magic worn off?

In his first start of the second half, the Yankee right-hander turned in a stinker, his second in a row. Colon gave up six hits and eight runs -- three earned -- in just 2/3 of an inning against the Blue Jays on Thursday before being replaced by Luis Ayala, who didn't help matters when he balked in a run to give Toronto a 9-0 lead after just one inning.

Colon walked two -- he was averaging just 2.2 per nine innings before Thursday --   and didn't strike out any, throwing 42 pitches to get two outs. Well, actually, he used fewer to get two outs, as seven straight Blue Jays reached with two outs before Colon was lifted.

Several Yankee beat writers speculated on Twitter that Colon could still be dealing with a hamstring injury, something that's not out of the realm of possibility. Colon went on the disabled list last month with a strained left hamstring and didn't look good coming off the mound to try to field two balls hit back at him by Rajai Davis and Yunel Escobar -- not that the 38-year old, 265-pounder (that's his listed weight) ever looks too good coming off the mound.

After the game, Colon told reporters he had no pain, but was tentative on his hamstring.

"I feel good, but sometime I feel a little bit nervous," Colon told reporters through an interpreter, according to the New York Times. "I'm afraid to push."

After coming off the disabled list, Colon pitched six scoreless innings against the Mets on July 2 and then picked up the loss in 5 2/3 innings against the Rays that lifted his ERA from 2.88 to 3.20. Thursday's outing put his ERA at 3.47, with thanks to third baseman Eduardo Nunez's error on J.P. Arencibia's grounder that loaded the bases with two outs.

Now, two bad outings happen -- it's not exactly unheard of for a pitcher to struggle at this point of the season. But Colon wasn't in baseball last season and was 14-21 with a 5.18 ERA over his last four seasons before missing 2010, so it's natural to wonder if he will regress to the mean. The Yankees are covered; Phil Hughes has returned to the rotation (with his rediscovered fastball) and Ivan Nova is in the minors just in case someone else in the rotation goes down.

Even if all Colon does is give the Yankees a great first half (6-4, 3.20 ERA), he will have been one of the best signings of the season. (He signed a minor league contract in January that pays him just $900,000 this season.) For the Yankees, $150,000 a win is like ordering off of the dollar menu. Last year the team paid $1,095,238.10 for each of CC Sabathia's 21 wins and $1,650,00 for each of A.J. Burnett's 10 victories. Between Colon and Freddy Garcia's $1.5 million contract, the Yankees could have appeared on Extreme Couponing with their bargain hunting -- even if they were stocking up on boxed macaroni and cheese to put in the pantry at their beach house.

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Posted on: July 6, 2011 4:55 pm
Edited on: July 6, 2011 9:50 pm
 

On Deck: Giants turn to Bumgarner

OD

By Matt Snyder


Wednesday serves as getaway day for some this week, so there are five day games being played, though it still leaves 10 for the evening set. One of the afternoon games was an all-important contest for the NL West race. The Diamondbacks lost to the Brewers, so that opens an opportunity for the Giants.

The Hot Hand: Youngster Madison Bumgarner started 3-9 for the Giants, but had pitched much better than the record showed and only really had a few bad outings. In his last two starts, however, Bumgarner has a 1.26 ERA, 0.91 WHIP and 20 strikeouts in 14 1/3 innings. This is the type of stuff expected from the 21-year-old left-hander more often as he matures. Wednesday night, he'll look to play streak-stopper for the Giants, as they've lost three straight and entered Wednesday with a one-game lead over the D-Backs in the NL West. The D-Backs loss means the Giants can increase the lead to two with a victory. Bumgarner (4-9, 3.65) will square off against Dustin Moseley (2-8, 3.07) and the Padres, who have won 10 of 13 and have moved comfortably above the Dodgers to stay out of last place in the division. San Diego at San Francisco, 10:15 p.m. ET Follow Live on Gametracker

Hughes Returns: We'll obviously still have Jeter Watch, as the quest for 3,000 hits continues in Cleveland Wednesday night, but there's another reason that game is newsworthy for the Yankees. Phil Hughes (0-1, 13.94) makes his return to the hill from the disabled list. Hughes was an All-Star last season after starting 10-1 with a 3.17 ERA and nearly a strikeout per inning. He had a 5.07 ERA the rest of the way as his velocity and strikeout rate went down. This season, things got worse. His first three starts were a debacle and he was put on the DL with shoulder inflammation. The good news is Hughes' velocity seems to have returned during his minor-league rehab stint, but Wednesday night is still a huge test. He'll face the first-place Indians and underrated starting pitcher Justin Masterson (6-6, 2.85). New York (AL) at Cleveland, 7:05 p.m. ET Follow Live on Gametracker

Break Up the Bucs: Since a four-game losing streak the third week of June, the Pirates have gone 10-4 and are currently riding a three-game winning streak. They're only one game behind the Cardinals in the loss column for first place in the NL Central. So it's possible they'll be just a half-game behind the Cards once play ends Wednesday night. The only thing standing between the Pirates being five games over .500 for the first time of the season is the worst team in baseball: The Astros. Bud Norris (4-6, 3.51) gets the ball for the Astros while Charlie Morton (7-4, 3.63) takes the hill for the Pirates. Houston at Pittsburgh, 7:05 p.m. ET Follow Live on Gametracker

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Posted on: July 3, 2011 2:37 pm
Edited on: July 3, 2011 3:37 pm
 

Yanks demote Nova to make room for Hughes

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Phil HughesPhil Hughes is ready to return to the Yankees' rotation and to make room, Ivan Nova will return to Triple-A, the Yankees announced on Sunday.

While Joe Girardi hinted he was considering a six-man rotation earlier in the week, that was likely just to give Nova some peace of mind in preparation for his start on Friday.

The team called up right-hander Lance Pendleton to take Nova's spot on the roster, but he'll likely be replaced by Hughes for Wednesday's game in Cleveland.

Hughes has spent the last three months on the disabled list with what was officially called right arm inflammation but was more because of the mystery of his missing velocity. During his first three starts of the season, he was averaging 89.3 mph on his fastball and was consistently in the low 90s in his last start in the minors, Wednesday at Double-A Trenton.

Nova is 8-4 with a 4.12 ERA and is 4-1 with a 3.35 ERA in his last six starts. The Yankees, who started the season with several questions in their rotation, will start the second half of the season not only with a full rotation, but also Nova in reserve if one of their other starters is hurt or ineffective.

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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