Tag:Brian Matusz
Posted on: March 29, 2011 9:55 am
 

Pepper: Battered Brewers breath sigh of relief



By Matt Snyder


With Zack Greinke on the shelf, the Brewers badly need Shaun Marcum -- who missed his previous spring start with shoulder soreness and has some injury history -- to come out of camp healthy. He threw four innings Monday in his last spring outing and felt fine. (Brewers blog )

So that's the good news.

The bad news is the Brewers have been injury-riddled this spring -- they'll start with five players on the disabled list -- and it's exposed the fragile thin layer of major-league talent they have.

There is certainly reason for optimism in Milwaukee, because they have some really good players. They can hit the ball, have good starting pitching -- so long as everyone is healthy, that is -- and what appears to be a capable closer. But when you're trading for Sergio Mitre and Nyjer Morgan in the last few days of spring to shore up depth, that's hardly a flawless team. Injuries can bury this team, the spring should merely serve as a warning.

With the Reds' injury woes, Adam Wainwright going down and Cubs having obvious flaws, this seems like a race that will be determined by the team with the best luck in terms of health. And the Brewers are already starting off on the wrong foot, even if Marcum felt fine Monday night.

SAVING CASHNER:
The Cubs correctly named Andrew Cashner the fifth member of the starting rotation over the former albatross, Carlos Silva. There are concerns with Cashner's workload, however, as he's never thrown more than 111 1/3 innings in a season. As a full-time starter, he should be expected to go over 150. The Cubs have pointed out they will "constantly" monitor his load this season, in terms of pitches and innings, to ensure the long-term health of their former first-rounder. (Chicago Sun-Times )

PEREZ PUKES, IS PEEVED: So Indians closer Chris Perez threw up on the back-end of the mound in the ninth inning of a spring game Monday (Jordan Bastian via Twitter), but then threw out a tweet himself about it, saying, "all right, enough of all this Perez threw up bs, I had low blood sugar and was dizzy, and only water came up."

THE AMAZING ECKSTEINS: I'm not even going to try and do this justice. It's too long and too good. Just read the whole thing. David Eckstein's family has donated five kidneys to each other and another six more are likely to be needed. David hasn't taken a turn yet, but he's "on deck." (The Post Game )

PRIOR DETERMINED: Mark Prior was demoted all the way to Class-A after a spring that saw him put up a 1.17 ERA in 7 2/3 innings of work. He still feels like he's going to help the Yankees at some point this season, and manager Joe Girardi said, "I think he's got a pretty good shot." (ESPN New York )

OH JOSE: Jose Canseco did some nice work on Twitter Monday. Let's see ... he said ESPN is owned by Major League Baseball, so they lie. "You will never know the real truth is you keep listening to the media." (That one was weird for me because I have never, ever been told what I can or cannot write by anyone). And the cherry on top, this gem: "Just remember the media is write 20 percent of 50 percent of the time." That one was aptly followed by him accusing other people of being ignorant. This all came on the heels of the news that Canseco pulled a bait-and-switch at a charity boxing event. Of course, Canseco's whole reason for the tirade was that he wanted to see if anyone was smart enough to figure out what actually happened. And it's all the media's fault. The funny thing is, Twitter is a media that gives Canseco a forum to tell his side. Don't tell us to guess what happened. Don't take a few days to reveal what happened, as it looks like you're cooking up a story, Jose. If there's a different truth, just tell it. But that's the problem, isn't it? (Jose Canseco via Twitter)

MOST DEPRESSED? A website put together a list of the most depressed baseball cities among the 18 teams that haven't won the World Series in the past 20 years. Oddly enough, Washington D.C. checked in at the top. These types of things are pretty immeasurable, really, but I guess it's entertaining enough to look at this point. We're just killing time until opening day anyway by now. (via Ultimate Astros )

MATUSZ STRUCK, STILL OPTIMISTIC:
Orioles starting pitcher Brian Matusz was throwing a simulated game when he was struck in his left biceps by a line drive, forcing him to stop his session well early. It's fortunately just a bruise, as the Orioles aren't even going to go through precautionary X-Rays. He's had a rough spring, but still remains confident for the regular season. (MASN.com )

SALT RIVER FIELDS FOREVER: The Diamondbacks and Rockies shared the new Salt River Fields facility this spring and it has been all the rage from pretty much everyone who has seen the place. The attendance has shown the popularity, as the place has drawn pretty staggering numbers. The D-Backs have drawn over 189,000 fans, averaging 11,161 per game. The number is almost double last season's spring attendance for the Snakes. The Rockies have similar figures, bringing in 10,485 fans per game, just about double last season's number. The facility has set all kinds of attendance records, with the Diamondbacks ranking first in spring attendance and the Rockies checking in at No. 3 -- the Yankees were second. (MLB.com )

NO BRACKETS FOR YOU: With the gambling accusations against former clubhouse manager Charlie Samuels, the Mets have refrained from running any NCAA basketball tournament bracket competitions. Manager Terry Collins said there was no specific mandate to avoid it, but everyone just thought it would be a bad idea. They must have known how things were going to shake out, huh? (Newsday )

ON-DECK ACCOUNT: Remember Aaron Guiel? He played for the Royals from 2002-2006 and then a little bit for the Yankees late in '06. Well he plays in Japan now, and he was on deck in a NPB game in Yokohama when the big earthquake happened. He described the event from his point of view to Canadian Baseball Network .

LEYLAND ON 'PLAYER X:' By now everyone's surely heard of ESPN the Magazine's "Player X," in which an anonymous player writes about the sport in which he plays. The latest baseball entry, "Player X" took on Miguel Cabrera, specifically wondering why he doesn't pay someone to drive him when he's out drinking. Tigers manager Jim Leyland didn't care for the column, saying: “To me that’s a gutless (jerk) that doesn’t put his name to it. If somebody would have said, ‘Hey, this is Jim Leyland and this is what I say, he should do this or this, then that’s fine. But when you (another expletive) hide behind somebody else’s expense, that’s chicken (expletive) to me." (Detroit Free-Press ) I can see the logic in that. Since my name is on this, I'll ask the same question, though: How do any players ever get a DUI? Miguel Cabrera makes $20 million a year. Why can't he -- or anyone else in the league who has gotten (or will get) a DUI -- pay someone something like $50,000 a year to be his driver? It would make things easier on everyone -- provide a job to someone, avoid the questions of alcoholism, keep guys out of jail, etc. I just don't get it.

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Posted on: March 24, 2011 10:54 am
Edited on: March 24, 2011 11:52 am
 

Pepper: Lack of Mauer power not concerning

Mauer

By Evan Brunell

MAUER POWER: Joe Mauer dipped from 28 home runs in 2009 to just nine last season, one coming at the new home park of Target Field. That's partly due to struggling with injuries and partly thanks to Target Field being the hardest park to hit a home run in. Mauer struggled to adjust in the first half (.293/368/.424) but finished strong in the second half (.373/.447/.527) and isn't interested in struggling again this season.

"A lot of times, I was hitting balls to left field that would be out of a lot of other parks, and they were caught for outs," Mauer said. "So you try to muscle it up a little bit more, and you become a little late [with each swing]. So yeah, it definitely does play with your mind."

While Mauer may try to load up on away home runs, he has the proper frame of mind for how to approach his new home.

"Just keep it simple, try to hit hard line drives, find those gaps and run a little bit."

That could lead to a ton of doubles for Mauer, who racked up 43 after just 30 in 2009. While anyone would prefer homers to doubles, the fact that Mauer can still drive the ball for doubles shows that his power is far from waning.

That hasn't stopped some from questioning the eight-year, $184 million pact that will keep Mauer in a Twins uniform. The deal, universally hailed at the time, has since come under question, but GM Bill Smith dismissed the concerns.

"The contract wasn't done in a one-year vacuum," Smith said. "It's the body of work that Joe had from 2005 through 2009. And we look forward to the coming years, hopefully the coming decade, with Joe Mauer as one of the cornerstone players in this franchise." (Minnesota Star Tribune)

THE EMERGENCE: Brandon McCarthy struggled in Texas to deliver on the promise that caused the team to trade John Danks. However, now with Oakland, McCarthy has moved away from power pitching and has focused on letting the movement on his pitches do the work. That's led to a sensational spring training, and McCarthy is now ready to go for the season. (San Francisco Chronicle)

CLOSING TIME: Now that Alexi Ogando is officially returning to the bullpen, he indicated he would enjoy closing. Ogando may get that shot if Neftali Feliz remains in the rotation, but that's unlikely to happen. "I feel I'm mentally strong and don't think it will affect me that much," Ogando said. (MLB.com)

WATCH YOUR MOUTH: After years of not training players to deal with the media, the Yankees changed their tune in 2007 to integrate a media-training program. That program has since escalated to mock interviews, role playing, guest speakers and more. Derek Jeter has also assisted in this, telling youngsters that they are still on the clock even when the uniform comes off. (Wall Street Journal)

HERE'S A TIP: Daniel Hudson had such a poor start Wednesday that he landed on the 3 up, 3 down list. The righty feels he may have been tipping his pitches, as he noticed hitters "spitting" his changeups while nailing fastballs. (MLB.com)

NO PAIN, BIG GAIN: Tim Stauffer came through his start with excellent results Wednesday after skipping a previous start due to a sore hip flexor. Stauffer put together perhaps the most impressive outing a Padres starter has had so far this spring and is ready for his first full season in the majors as a starter. (San Diego Union-Tribune)

BEER, FASTER: Ever wanted a way to get your beer at the ballpark faster? You're in luck as the Red Sox are adding two beer stands to Fenway Park this season that fills beers from the bottoms up. Yes, you read that right. A recyclable magnetic cap on the bottom of the beer cup flips open to allow beer to pour in before sealing itself shut. This will allow up to 44 beers to be filled per minute. (Boston Herald)

GETTIN' IN THE GROOVE: Brian Matusz didn't mince any words when asked what went wrong during his start Wednesday. "From the get-go, warming up, I couldn't find my rhythm tonight," he said. The good news? Matusz headed to the bullpen after his 1 1/3-inning outing and found his groove then. "It's going to be four hard days of work and then be ready to go on the fifth day," he added. "It was just one of those days where I didn't have it, I didn't get in my rhythm, I didn't do it. Now I know what went wrong and I know what to fix and I'll take it from there." (MASN)

MORE HOT DOGS, PLEASE: Get this: hot dogs may actually be healthier for you than rotisserie chicken, a new study reveals. While the skin of the chicken has more protein, it also packs more carcinogenic compounds, while hot dogs, along with pepperoni and deli meat, have very low amounts. (MSNBC)

FACELIFT: A year after heading to the World Series, the Rangers have spruced up the home ballpark by throwing up a video board that is virtually more than double the size of the old one, the sound system being completely reworked, an upgraded weight room and more. (Ft. Worth Star-Telegram)

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Posted on: March 4, 2011 9:53 am
Edited on: April 18, 2011 12:29 pm
 

Pepper: Big Puma struggling through spring

Lance Berkman

By C. Trent Rosecrans

The Cardinals came out of the offseason sacrificing defense for offense, but that offense may have a hard time even getting on the field.

Lance Berkman, inked in as the team's right fielder going into the spring, was scratched from the team's lineup on Thursday because of a sore left calf. Berkman had already been limited to designated hitter work because of a bad left elbow.

It's just the first week of games, and Berkman has been limited to play in the field. On Thursday, Berkman told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch he was "perfectly fine" and would still go to Kissimmee, Fla., on Friday to face his old team, the Astros.

Friday morning, Berkman wasn't on the bus, missing another game.

Prospect Zack Cox filled in for Berkman at DH on Thursday and knocked in a run, but he's not ready to fill in full-time for Berkman in the field and the National League doesn't have the DH.

Sure, it's early, and several players are battling bumps and bruises, but not all of them are 35, coming off a down season, moving to a more demanding physical position, blocked at their old position and being counted on to remedy a team's offense. That's a lot on the shoulders of the Big Puma, and it's looking less like he can shoulder that load.

WAKE-UP: As if stepping into the box against a guy who can sling the ball 105 mph wasn't enough to get your attention, the first pitch ending up somewhere near the bull certainly got Dodger Trent Oeltjen's attention. Thursday night, the first pitch of Chapman's inning of work went over the catcher's mitt and over the umpire's head. His next three pitches to Oeltjen were strikes, including strike three looking.

"If it was at my face, I wouldn't have had time to move," Oeltjen told the Los Angeles Times' Dylan Hernandez. "It woke me up. He sent a message he was throwing hard."

Said new manager Don Mattingly: "Jeez, huh? He was Randy Johnson-ish. It gets there quick, doesn't it?"

GOOD NEWS, BAD NEWS: Carlos Zambrano didn't fight anyone in his Thursday start for the Cubs -- not only that, he threw three scoreless innings. However, he did complain of arm fatigue after the start.

"I was just tired," Zambrano said to the Chicago Sun-Times. "It's normal. I wasn't feeling power in my arm, but I guarantee you I will work hard and feel good in my next start."

Zambrano note he typically feels a "dead-arm" at least once a spring.

JUST BAD NEWS: Yesterday the question was if Astros' catcher Jason Castro would miss the beginning of the season. Today, it's if he'll play at all this season.

Thursday night, Castro was diagnosed with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. Castro was scheduled to have surgery this morning, and general manager Ed Wade said he could return "by mid-September." (Houston Chronicle)

WAIT FOR JUDGEMENT? Matt Cain said he hasn't thrown a ball since coming down with elbow inflammation on Sunday and will likely miss multiple starts this spring. 

However, Cain's not too concerned, even after taking an MRI.

There is a history -- and this is something to watch -- of pitchers going to the postseason one season and having trouble the next because of the increased workload. While Cain's not worried, it'll be something to monitor with all of the Giants' pitching staff. (San Francisco Chronicle)

ANOTHER WART: Hopefully Orioles starter Brian Matusz won't tweet a picture like Michael Cuddyer, but he'll also be having a wart professionally removed.

Matusz's wart is on the middle finger of his pitching hand. Still, he threw two scoreless innings on Wednesday even with the wart. He had it some last year, but pitched through it. He said it bothers him some on his breaking ball. (Baltimore Sun)

WAS THAT REALLY A CONSIDERATION? Oliver Perez has been the New York media's favorite target for a while, but is this really necessary? The New Your Daily News' "breaking news" from "a source" is that the Mets have internally decided Perez will not be a starter during the regular season.

The Daily News' Andy Martino wrote that the day after he wrote the team would cut Perez (and his $12 million salary) if he didn't perform well in his start on Thursday. Well, he threw two scoreless innings against the Cardinals, so Martino didn't get his wish. Instead, he had to find a new way to pile onto Perez.

Hey, it's not to say Perez doesn't stink. He does. Or that he's not overpaid -- he is. It's just, this breathless reporting seems almost like piling on. Sure, the Mets have said he's in contention for the rotation, but the Mets say a lot of things, and it's not like we believe those.

NOW HE COULD BE IN A ROTATION: Neftali Feliz wasn't too happy with his first start of spring. Still, he threw two scoreless innings, so it wasn't bad. He also threw three different pitches, but struggled with his command and rhythm.

The Feliz story may be one of the more interesting ones of spring, and certainly something to watch as the month goes along. He'll throw three innings next week. (Fort Worth Star-Telegram)

VISA TIME: Edinson Volquez, Cincinnati's opening-day starter, could pitch his first spring training start because of a visa problem, but he should be able to make his next start after a quick trip to his native Dominican Republic.

"Everything is set," he told the Cincinnati Enquirer's John Fay. "They're just waiting for me to pitch it up."

He was unable to pitch in games at which admission is charged because he came to camp on a travel visa, not a work visa. His work visa was held up because of his failed drug test and suspension last season.

COCO CONTRITE: A's outfielder Coco Crisp said he's embarrassed about his DUI arrest on Wednesday morning. (San Francisco Chronicle)

GO METS OR GO HOME: Former Cardinals and A's closer Jason Isringhausen is back in camp for the Mets, after starting a comeback last season in the Reds system.

Isringhausen played in Triple-A last season, but says his bus-riding days are over. If he doesn't break camp with the Mets, he'll just go home and call it a career. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

OR JUST GO HOME: Boston's J.D. Drew says he's considering retiring after this year. It's been one of those things he's hinted at before and is hardly a surprise. (Boston Herald)

SO WHO IS A-ROD? According to Wikileaks, a U.S. diplomatic cable on the 2009 Iranian election called President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad the "George Steinbrenner of Iran" when talking about his influence over the national soccer team.

I'm guessing that wasn't a compliment. (Associated Press)

WHAT'S A WORLD SERIES WORTH? How much are World Series starts worth to a Hall of Fame discussion? Or, even more words about Jack Morris from Baseball Prospectus.

Honestly, I used to be a Morris for the Hall guy, I'm not anymore. I used to not be a Bert Blyleven guy, but I am now. But I'll certainly never change my feeling that I never want to hear another Morris-Blyleven debate.

A BETTER SCORECARD: An interview with Bethany Heck, the designer of a new, better, scorebook. Heck's 20-game scorebook is like "if Moleskine made a scorebook…" (Bugs & Cranks)

WHAT TO WATCH: Jake Peavy will make his first start since July 6 today against the Angels in Tempe, Ariz.

"Hopefully, we'll see some of the hard work we've done pay off," he told the Chicago Tribune.

QUARTERBACK SHOWDOWN: There's a Groundhog Day aspect to spring training, so Padres manager Bud Black found a way to break up the monotony -- a quarterback combine.

While Cam Newton and Blaine Gabbert (seriously, could you draft a quarterback named "Blaine") did this in Indianapolis last week, Black had his former quarterbacks -- top prospect Casey Kelly, Cory Luebke, Orlando Hudson and Nick Hundley -- go through their own competition Thursday morning.

According to MLB.com's Corey Brock, the three went through several drills, including hitting a moving target. Luebke, a high school quarterback in Ohio, upset Kelly, who signed a letter of intent to play QB at Tennessee.

"We're here for six weeks," Black said. "… We try to do some things to keep the guys going."

MARK YOUR CALENDAR: The Reds have announced the front-runner for the year's best bobblehead. On July 2 against the Indians, fans will receive the combination Dusty Baker bobblehead and toothpick holder. The bobblehead even has Dusty with a toothpick in his mouth (and, of course, sweatbands on his arms). So far, it's the best bobblehead I've seen on tap for this year, with the Reds also getting second place for their Jonny Gomes bobblehead and arm, mimicking the way Gomes tugs at his helmet before every at-bat.

Dusty Baker

IF YOU'RE NOT ALREADY BEARDED OUT: The literary journal McSweeney's is selling a "How to Beard Yourself Like Brian Wilson" poster.

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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 15, 2010 2:22 pm
Edited on: April 18, 2011 11:36 am
 

Feliz, Posey win Rookie honors

Buster Posey Rangers closer Neftali Feliz and Giants catcher Buster Posey are your Rookies of the Year. No surprise, really.

The only question about today's results was which deserving National League rookie would win. Buster Posey ended up winning, taking the award over Atlanta's Jason Heyward.

While I would have voted for Heyward, I have zero problem with Posey winning. Both were incredible. What strikes me as interesting is the voting results, as Posey won comfortably, getting 20 of the 32 first-place votes and finishing with a total of 129 points. Heyward got nine first-place votes and 107 total points. I honestly thought it would be closer.

Three voters didn't vote for either, one voter went with Cardinals starter Jaime Garcia, while two voted for Gaby Sanchez.

The American League spread was about the same, as the National League. Feliz received 20 first-place votes and finished with 122 points. Tigers center fielder Austin Jackson finished second, with eight first-place votes and 98 total points. Twins third baseman Danny Valencia was third.

Pedro Feliz The difference, as discussed last week, was the caliber of candidates in both leagues. Feliz had a good year, but he's a closer, and that's a different role. Just for the record, let's look at the stats from the American League Rookie of the Year:

69 1/3 IP, 43 H, 21 R, 21 ER, 18 BB, 71 K, 2.73 ERA, .880 WHIP

Not bad numbers. Now let's look at a rookie in the National League who didn't garner a single vote.

68 IP, 56 H, 25 R, 22 ER, 17 BB, 92 K, 2.91 ERA, 1.074 WHIP

How about that? How did that guy not even get considered for the National League Rookie of the Year?

That's because he got hurt -- and he was a starter.

Stephen Strasburg made just 12 starts, but still pitched nearly as many innings as Feliz, who was the Rangers' closer. He didn't have 40 saves.

That said, Feliz definitely deserved the award.

The voting:
National League (points)
Buster Posey 129
Jason Heyward 107
Jaime Garcia 24
Gaby Sanchez 18
Neil Walker 3
Starlin Castro 3
Ike Davis 2
Jose Tabata 1
Jonny Venters 1

American League
Neftali Feliz 122
Austin Jackson 98
Danny Valencia 12
Wade Davis 11
John Jaso 3
Brandon Boesch 3
Brian Matusz 3

The National League Cy Young Award will be announced tomorrow.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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Posted on: November 8, 2010 2:56 pm
Edited on: November 8, 2010 5:22 pm
 

MLB Facts and Rumors votes on Rookie of the Year

Feliz With the major baseball awards being announced next week, MLB Facts and Rumors will reveal their choices this week for the awards. Today, Evan, David and Trent name their Rookie of the Year selections. At the end of the article, the overall MLB Facts and Rumors winner will be announced using a points system, with the No. 1 selection receiving three points, down to No. 3 receiving 1.

Both the AL and NL rookie of the year race is generally down to two favorites. The AL has Neftali Feliz, the Rangers' closer doing battle against center fielder Austin Jackson of the Tigers. In the National League, it was a banner year for rookies but the two top candidates are catcher Buster Posey of the World Champion Giants and right fielder Jason Heyward of the Braves.

AMERICAN LEAGUE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR

David Andriesen

1. CL Neftali Feliz, TEX
2. CF Austin Jackson, DET
3. SP Brian Matusz, BAL

Feliz saved 40 games, more than any rookie in history. Of course, rookie closers aren’t exactly commonplace, but that’s impressive. Jackson tailed off a bit late in the season but definitely stands above the other position players.

Evan Brunell
1. CF Austin Jackson, DET
2. CL Neftali Feliz, TEX
3. SP Brian Matusz, BAL

A 22-year-old saving 40 games for a division winner is no small feat. However, as impressive as his season was, I can't give his 269 total batters faced the nod over Jackson's 675 plate appearances of a .745 OPS and top-notch defense.

C. Trent Rosecrans
1. RP Neftali Feliz, TEX
2. SP Brian Matusz, BAL
3. OF Austin Jackson, DET

I wouldn't go far to say "obvious." I think Feliz has the most "obvious" talent, but the save stat -- especially in today's game -- is so overrated I hate for it to be a deciding factor. In fact, I think it's not so much "obviously" Feliz, as Feliz by default. Listen, I'll take Feliz long-term over any of the other AL rookies, but I'm not sure he was as dominant all season as we remember throughout the postseason. That said, I'm still going for Feliz, but by a nose over Matusz, who made 32 starts for the Orioles.

Heyward NATIONAL LEAGUE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR

David Andriesen
1. C Buster Posey, SFG
2. RF Jason Heyward, ATL
3. SP Jaime Garcia, STL

What an amazing field of candidates here – half a dozen guys have ROY numbers in a normal year. Posey and Heyward are 1 and 1A for me; I
know I’m not supposed to count postseason, but maybe it tainted my choice. Apologies to Gaby Sanchez, Tyler Colvin and Jonny Venters.

Evan Brunell
1. RF Jason Heyward, ATL
2. C Buster Posey, SF
3. SP Jamie Garcia, STL

If award voting didn't occur until after the postseason, Josh Beckett would have won the 2007 Cy Young Award over CC Sabathia. A similar situation arises today as Buster Posey is certainly the best rookie, postseason included. But the voting is for regular season only, so Jason Heyward rightfully takes the title. To me, the additional time played at a high level is too hard to ignore. Trent nails the Heyward-Posey debate below.

C. Trent Rosecrans
1. RF Jason Heyward, ATL
2. C Buster Posey, SF
3. SP Jaime Garcia, STL

As difficult as it was picking an AL Rookie of the Year, it's even more difficult to pick the National League's winner -- but for the complete opposite reason. This may be remembered as one of the greatest years for rookies in one league in a long, long time. I can't even imagine making the case for which player I would take long-term, Posey or Heyward. Hell, I'll take the second pick and be happy. But the deciding factor for me is something that was out of Posey's hands -- Heyward played 142 games as a rookie and went through the ups and downs. The book was out on him early, and he still played well. Posey finished with as many homers, but Heyward still had a better OPS+, which is impressive considering the number of at-bats. Now, if postseason stats were included, I may change my story, but they're not. Crazy that in the AL, or most other years, Garcia could be considered a shoo-in, but now he's an also-ran.

MLB Facts and Rumors AL Rookie of the Year
Neftali Feliz gets the nod with 8 points to Jackson's 5. Matusz finishes with 4.

MLB Facts and Rumors NL Rookie of the Year
Jason Heyward fends off Posey with 8 points to Posey's seven. Garcia finishes way behind with three.

-- Evan Brunell

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

Posted on: October 11, 2010 11:12 pm
Edited on: April 18, 2011 11:51 am
 

R.I.P. Orioles: Three managers, almost 100 losses

RIP 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. Next up: The only AL East team to finish under .500 in the Baltimore Orioles.

The Orioles were a team with a budding youth movement at the end of 2009 with enough solid young players that it was thought 2010 could be the first step towards an eventual return to the top of the AL East.

Instead, the team cycled through three managers and a host of disappointing seasons from crucial players en route to the same old, same old.

WHAT WENT WRONG

In the offseason, the O's made three moves geared toward addressing the team's perceived weaknesses amid a push for .500. Those were bringing in Garrett Atkins, Miguel Tejada and Kevin Millwood.

Atkins couldn't hit his way out of a brown paper bag before being released, Tejada played poorly in his first season as a third baseman and increasingly appeared disinterested before being traded to the Padres and Kevin Millwood ran up a 4-16 record and 5.10 ERA in 31 starts.

In addition, center fielder Adam Jones regressed, left fielder Nolan Reimold was sent to Triple-A, second baseman Brian Roberts struggled with back problems, limited to just 59 games and Nick Markakis' 12 home runs were a massive disappointment. Mega-prospect Matt Wieters' pedestrian season proved that you can't always depend on minor-league numbers to tell the whole story. (Wieters still figures to develop into one of the league's best backstops.)

And if someone can tell me why the O's didn't trade Ty Wigginton when he was very much in demand and a free agent likely to depart, please call me. Because that was one of the dumber decisions at the trade deadline made by any team, with only the Nats' decision to hang onto Adam Dunn perhaps worse.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

Brian Matusz Brian Matusz (pictured, right) shook off a slow start and ended the year with a 4.30 ERA, impressive for a rookie in the AL East. The lefty should eventually develop into Baltimore's ace. He was joined by Jeremy Guthrie, who shook off a poor 2009 to return to his usual season of around 200 innings (209 1/3) and an ERA just under 4.00 (3.83).

On offense, Felix Pie established himself as the left-fielder of the future after questions surrounding his commitment and talent. Pie was injured for a major part of the year, and nomad Corey Patterson -- himself an ex-Cub top prospect -- filled in admirably for Pie.

Luke Scott powered his way to a .902 OPS and career-best 27 blasts, hitting .284/.368/.535 in 447 plate appearances, as Scott has established himself as a solid power-hitter in the middle of the Orioles' lineup. On a contending team, he would likely bat fifth and at 32, his value is running out. His age is not a concern thanks to having two more years of arbitration that other teams would covet. However, Scott will only get older and only get closer to free agency, so the O's should capitalize on Scott's best full-time year and deal him.

HELP ON THE WAY

The Orioles debuted Jake Arrieta and brought Chris Tillman up for another shot at the rotation, giving the O's three nice arms with Matusz that will eventually be the foundation of the team. Tillman is still struggling to adapt to the majors but has plenty of time to figure out while Arrieta has a 2011 rotation spot locked up.

Zach Britton skyrocketed up the prospect rankings all season and should debut in 2011, eventually pairing with Guthrie, Matusz, Arrieta and Tillman to give the Orioles its best pitching staff since its mid-90s halcyon days and its best shot to take down the Yankees, Rays, Red Sox and Jays. Offensively, the club drafted shortstop Manny Machado in June, who will appear on many Top-100 prospect lists this winter.

Josh Bell didn't find the bigs to his liking in his major-league debut, compiling a .214/.224/.302 line but represents the O's best hope for developing a power hitter and will get every chance. Brandon Snyder will also get every chance to become Baltimore's long-term first baseman, but a poor 2010 calls into question how ready he is currently.

EXPECTATIONS FOR 2011

Buck Showalter The Orioles ran through Dave Trembley and Juan Samuel heading up the clubhouse before settling on Buck Showalter (pictured, right). The longtime skipper posted a 34-23 record in town, giving many hope. While Showalter will combine with many budding, talented youngsters to give forth a strong effort, the team is simply not ready for prime time.

Shooting for .500 is a realistic goal, but the team may have to temper expectations given the mighty behemoth that is the AL East. Finishing with 88 losses could be as good as finishing .500 in any other division.

SUGGESTIONS FOR 2011

The Orioles need to be focused on one thing and one thing only: surrounding the team with enough talent to compete. With enough money to make a play for a big free agent, the O's could strike big, but need to make these smaller strikes count as well.

The Orioles could make a play for Jayson Werth or Carl Crawford and sell them on having enough talent coming up to make a push. The dollars and sense won't likely work out, however, so the O's will have to go second-tier shopping. Taking a flyer on Jeremy Bonderman, still under age 30 and with plenty of talent, could work out in spades for the O's.  Jorge De La Rosa would be a safer get, but also come at a higher price.

On offense, the team could target someone like Carlos Pena or Derrek Lee, amongst a host of others, to come in to act as a veteran presence and occupy first base long enough for Snyder to develop. The Orioles could also strike to acquire Prince Fielder, giving the team a cornerstone power bat to build around for the foreseeable future. Baltimore would also be able to flash enough money to potentially keep the slugger in town beyond 2011.

2011 PREDICTION

The Orioles will take baby steps toward contention. The offense is major-league ready enough, but the pitching is lagging behind and needs at least a year -- if not two -- to settle down. Baltimore's task is to get its young hitters focused in the meantime while cashing in on chips like Luke Scott and Jeremy Guthrie. The Orioles will likely sniff 90 losses but could be primed for a breakout in 2012.

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

-- Evan Brunell

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


Posted on: September 3, 2010 4:42 pm
Edited on: September 3, 2010 4:47 pm
 

O's will give Tillman another start

Chris Tillman
The next step in the back-and-forth career of Orioles pitcher Chris Tillman will apparently be a start in Baltimore this weekend. The Baltimore Sun reports that the right-hander is expected to move up from Triple-A Norfolk and start Sunday.

Tillman hasn't had success at the major-league level in his second season, going 1-4 with a 7.92 ERA in six starts. He got off to a big start in Norfolk this year, including a no-hitter, and joined the big-league rotation at the end of May. He played himself out of that role in four starts as he went 0-3 and failed to make it past two innings in two of them. He was recalled to replace injured Kevin Millwood in July, but in his second start back he was hammered for eight runs in 2 2/3 innings and he went back down.

Tillman, a second-round draft pick who came to Baltimore from Seattle in the Erik Bedard deal, is still just 22 and it's not time to give up on him. The Orioles have nothing to lose by letting him work things out at the big-league level at the end of this lost season, and it will give new manager Buck Showalter a chance to evaluate him before next spring.

If Tillman pitches Sunday, that would buy an extra day of rest for Brian Matusz, Jake Arrieta and Brad Bergesen. The Sun said this doesn't necessarily mean the Orioles are going to a six-man rotation, but at this point it's not clear what their plans are.

-- 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