Tag:Carlos Pena
Posted on: May 18, 2011 2:57 pm
 

Benoit out as setup man: Leave Rays at your peril

By Matt Snyder

The Detroit Tigers signed right-handed reliever Joaquin Benoit to a three-year, $16.5 million contract this past offseason to serve as their eighth-inning bridge to closer Jose Valverde.

In return, Benoit's provided them with three losses, a 7.98 ERA and 1.71 WHIP in 14 2/3 innings. He's been especially dreadful in his last six outings, having allowed 12 earned runs in five innings (that's a 21.60 ERA, in case you're wondering). In turn, the Tigers have made the decision to stop using him in setup situations, at least temporarily.

"He's an important piece of the puzzle," manager Jim Leyland said, "but we're going to have to look at it and figure something out. I'll have to figure out the strategic part." (MLB.com)

Anyway, the Benoit news got me thinking. The Rays lost of a good chunk of production from last season's 96-win AL East champions, and most of those guys seem to be struggling. It's not just the big names, either, it's almost everyone.

Check this out:

Carlos Pena -- Had a .457 OPS through May 2 with zero home runs and six RBI. He's been scorching hot since, but it's only gotten his line to right in line with where he was last season, which was by leaps and bounds his worst as a Ray.

Jason Bartlett -- .675 OPS last season, .617 this season.

Carl Crawford -- He's having a good May, but still has only gotten his OPS up to .524. Basically, he's on pace to have the worst year of his career by far.

Matt Garza -- He's actually pitched well, but weather, bad luck on balls in play, bad defense and poor run support have made sure that he's just 2-4 through nine starts.

Rafael Soriano -- The man who was probably the best closer in baseball last season is already hated by most Yankees fans due to his 5.40 ERA, several blown leads and indifferent attitude. And now he's got an elbow injury.

Lance Cormier -- In two years for the Rays, he had a 3.55 ERA. So far for the Dodgers? 8.71.

Benoit -- He had a 1.34 ERA and 75 strikeouts in 60 1/3 innings last year. See the intro for how this season is going.

Dan Wheeler -- 3.35 ERA and 46 strikeouts for the Rays in 48 1/3 innings last season. This year he's given the Red Sox 10 1/3 innings -- in which he's allowed 18 hits and 13 earned runs -- and a DL-stint.

Randy Chaote and Grant Balfour are the exceptions to the rule, evidently. Both are throwing well in new homes.

Still, that's a pretty big group of people to have left and gotten worse (or in Garza's case, had less fortune) in just one season.

Meanwhile, Casey Kotchman, Sam Fuld, Johnny Damon, Kyle Farnsworth, Juan Cruz and a handful of others have helped propel the Rays into first place. Again.

This is yet another reason the Rays' front office is the best in the business. Whether it's knowing when to give up on players, when to cash in via trade, when to bring guys in at the absolute optimal time, how to develop the players or how to brainwash them into only playing well for the Rays, it's working.

If only they could generate enough revenue to get the payroll into the $80 million range. It would be interesting.

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Posted on: May 18, 2011 1:46 am
 

3 up, 3 down: McCann saves the day

Brian McCann

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Brian McCann, Braves -- Like Dante Hicks, McCann wasn't even supposed to be there today. Getting the customary off day in a night game after a day game, McCann came into the game as a pinch hitter with two outs in the ninth inning, tying the game with a homer off Mark Melancon. Then with a man on in the 11th, McCann came up again and it was the same result, a homer off of reliever Jeff Fulchino, giving the Braves a 3-1 win over the Astros.

Francisco Liriano, Twins -- Liriano struck out nine and walked one, while giving up three hits and a run in seven innings against the Mariners to snap the Twins' nine-game losing streak. The Twins scored two in the first off Seattle starter Felix Hernandez, giving Liriano all the Twins would need for the victory.

Alex Rodriguez, Yankees -- Rodriguez tied the game with a solo shot in the fourth and then gave the Yankees the lead in the sixth with another solo homer. It was a good day for struggling Yankees -- Rodriquez was hitting .171/.236/.232 in his last 21 games leading up to Tuesday's two-homer performance, while Jorge Posada went 2 for 3 in his return to the lineup. The win ended the team's six-game slide.


Cubs defense -- All seven of the Reds' runs in Tuesday's 7-5 victory were unearned, as the Cubs committed four errors in the loss. The first came in the fourth inning with bases loaded and two outs, when Carlos Pena couldn't field a ball hit by pitcher Edinson Volquez that drove in a run, but then pitcher Matt Garza picked up the ball and made a throwing error, allowing two more runs to score and tie the score. In the Reds' fourth-run eighth inning, Kerry Wood's throwing error allowed the Reds to tie the game and put the winning run on third. ANd then after Chris Heisey gave the Reds the lead with a sacrifice fly, the Reds added Cub-assisted run later in the inning when Kosuke Fukudome missed the cutoff man -- and Starlin Castro failed to back it up -- following Joey Votto's double, keeping the team from even getting a play at the plate on Paul Janish, who scored from first. Janish likely would have scored without the miscue, but with it, there was not even a play at the plate.

Angels pitchers -- Anaheim put up a Vin Mazzaro on Tuesday, allowing 14 runs to the A's in a 14-0 loss late Tuesday. Starter Tyler Chatwood gave up seven runs (five earned) and seven hits in 2 1/3 innings, Trevor Bell allowed a run on three hits in two innings, Kevin Jepsen allowed five runs on four hits in an inning of work, followed by Rich Thompson allowed a run on a hit and two walks in 1 1/3 innings. Finally Hisanori Takahashi worked a scoreless inning to cap things off for the Angels.

High-price setup men -- The Yankees put Rafael Soriano on the disabled list Tuesday due to "stiffness" and "soreness" in his right elbow, a day after he criticized  the team's offense. Meanwhile, Tigers manager Jim Leyland said Joaquin Benoit has lost his job as the team's primary setup man after his three-run eighth inning on Monday. He's allowed 12 earned runs in five innings in his last six appearances, with his ERA up to 7.98. The good news is he's only got two years and $11 million left on his contract after this season.

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Posted on: April 4, 2011 5:30 pm
 

Cubs win in front of lowest attendance since '02

By Matt Snyder

Sure, there are outliers, but usually when you watch a game involving the Cubs and Wrigley Field, it's a rarity to see more than a few empty seats. As you can see from the background of the picture here, it was a veritable ghost town in Wrigley Monday afternoon.

The paid attendance was actually 26,292, so there were thousands and thousands of no-shows. The 47-degrees and 23 m.p.h wind likely contributed to the decisions of so many people to skip out on the game. Even so, the paid attedance was the lowest figure since September of 2002. (Paul Sullivan of Chicago Tribune via Twitter)

The few who did show up saw a Cubs victory. Randy Wells served up a home run to Willie Bloomquist to open the game, but the Diamondbacks didn't score again the rest of the game. A solo home run for Alfonso Soriano tied the game in the third and a bases-loaded sacrifice fly from Carlos Pena in the fourth tied it up. The Cubs added two insurance runs in the eighth before Carlos Marmol bounced back from Sunday's blown save to lock it down in the ninth. It took Marmol a second to get himself into gear, too. He walked the first batter he faced and then went 2-0 to Kelly Johnson. He then settled in and didn't allow a baserunner the rest of the way.

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Posted on: April 3, 2011 10:24 pm
Edited on: April 3, 2011 10:49 pm
 

Pirates' Jones takes dousing in stride

Why does it seem like it's always Wrigley Field where players get beers dumped on them?

Two years ago it was Shane Victorino and back in the day it was Lenny Dykstra.

Victorino filed a complaint against Johnny Macchione in 2009 after the then-21-year-old threw a beer at Victorino.

Chicago native and Pirates outfielder Garrett Jones didn't seem as upset when he was doused with a beer on Sunday.

"It tasted good," Jones said.

Jones said he got some in his eye and his mouth in the fourth inning as he chased Carlos Pena's double. However it may have been an accident as a Cubs fan (with bad depth perception) tried to catch the ball, which bounced off the wall. A plastic cup fell into the wire basket, but the beer -- Miller Lite, according to Jones -- fell on Jones, allowing two runs to score. Manager Clint Hurdle tried to argue interference, but the two runs were allowed.

Jones was not initially in the team's lineup, inserted into right when Andrew McCutchen was scratched, moving Matt Diaz to left and Jose Tabata in center. Jones was 2 for 4 and scored the tying run in the ninth inning after leading off the inning with a walk.

Here's the video of Jones' interview after the game from the Chicago Tribune .


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Posted on: March 29, 2011 5:56 pm
Edited on: March 29, 2011 9:35 pm
 

Five teams to improve, five to decline in 2011

By Matt Snyder

Finally, spring training is concluding. Now we have a day or two before your favorite team begins play. In the meantime, I'm here to bring you the top five teams to decline and the top five to improve upon their 2010 performances. In return, you accuse me of bias and call me names. It's fun for everyone, really. One thing to keep in mind is that improving or declining by more than 10 games is pretty drastic. On some of these, I'm looking at something like a seven-game swing.

TOP FIVE TEAMS TO IMPROVE

1. Boston Red Sox. Well, let's see ... Last season Kevin Youkilis only played 102 games, Dustin Pedroia saw action in 75 and Jacoby Ellsbury just 18. Josh Beckett was either injured or ineffective all season. Meanwhile the Red Sox added Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez to a team that won 89 games, despite all those injury woes -- and some underachieving from people like John Lackey. Easiest call on the board here, and even Yankees fans would have to concede this team is loaded.

2. Oakland A's. The pitching staff is stellar, even including the bullpen. The starting rotation is already really good and only getting better. The A's won 81 with one of the worst offenses in baseball last season. A full season of Coco Crisp, Kurt Suzuki bouncing back and the additions of Hideki Matsui and Josh Willingham don't exactly sound like adding Gonzalez and Crawford, but small improvements will do wonders for the pitching staff. Slugger Chris Carter is waiting in the wings, too, and don't be surprised if Billy Beane adds a bat at the deadline.

3. Colorado Rockies. Troy Tulowitzki needs to stay healthy and Dexter Fowler needs to get closer to his ceiling. I'm going out on a limb that both happen, along with steps forward from Chris Iannetta and Ian Stewart. Watch Jhoulys Chacin's development in the starting rotation, too. He's got big potential.

4. Milwaukee Brewers. This is contingent upon the big names staying healthy and Zack Greinke getting healthy as soon as possible, because this team is paper-thin. But the top line is very impressive. Plus, the division is not very good at all. The Brewers are going to score runs, get good starting pitching (again, assuming the health thing) and have a good back-end of the bullpen. If they can overcome defense and depth deficiencies, they'll win the Central.

5. Florida Marlins. Call it a bit of a gut call, but I really like the Marlins. The rotation really has great potential with Javier Vazquez returning to a pitcher's park in the NL East (he's apparently too intimidated by being a Yankee) and Ricky Nolasco having the ability to be a true No. 2 if he can ever stay consistent. Anibal Sanchez and Chris Volstad have -- again, this word -- potential to be solid at the end, with stud Josh Johnson leading the five-some. I love the outfield potential of Logan Morrison, Chris Coghlan and Mike Stanton, so long as all three can stay healthy. Hanley Ramirez is primed to have a big season, too.

TOP FIVE TEAMS TO DECLINE

1. San Diego Padres. Removing Gonzalez from the middle of the batting order changes the complexion of everything. And Mat Latos is already hurt, which does nothing to alleviate the concern of the huge workload increase he's experienced over the past two seasons. Most of all, the Padres just seem outmanned by the Giants and Rockies. Winning close to 90 games seems outlandish. Of course, many people said that last year, too.

2. Houston Astros. They overachieved in a big way last season according to run differential (the 'Stros allowed 118 more runs than they scored) and aren't any better. Other than Hunter Pence, the position players are either getting old (Carlos Lee), still unproven (Brett Wallace) or just not that good (Jason Michaels, Bill Hall, Michael Bourn). I'm not a huge fan of the rotation, but it's going to have to carry the team. Good luck with that.

3. Tampa Bay Rays. This is difficult. It's hard to not love the Rays for being so good at sticking with the Yankees and Red Sox in the mighty AL East on that paltry payroll. The loss of Crawford hurts. Carlos Pena wasn't overly productive -- though he was much better than his batting average said -- last season, but his presence helps everyone else see better pitches. That goes away with Dan Johnson at first. The loss of Matt Garza isn't a big deal, so long as Jeremy Hellickson does his thing and James Shields returns to form. The bullpen is worse, though. Look, I'd pick the Rays to win the NL Central if they were in it, but the Yankees aren't any worse and the Red Sox are way better. The Orioles should be better as well. I think the Rays win in the ballpark of 86 games, but that's 10 worse than last year and good for third place.

4. Toronto Blue Jays. They're still building and are moving in the right direction, but winning 85 games again in that division is a very tall order. Any offensive bounce-back from the likes of Aaron Hill and Adam Lind is negated by Jose Bautista's return to this planet.

5. St. Louis Cardinals. If anyone can pull this off, it's Dave Duncan, but losing Adam Wainwright was a death blow. Chris Carpenter is old and injury-prone. Jaime Garcia is due a massive regression. Kyle Lohse was awful last year and Jake Westbrook doesn't have good stuff. Kyle McClellan could very well prove a solid No. 5 starter, but he hasn't exceeded 75 2/3 innings the past three seasons in the bullpen. Can he really double that and remain effective? The outfield defense won't do the staff any favors, either. The Pujols/Holliday/Rasmus combo -- and even Lance Berkman in a best-case scenario -- is very solid, but there's only going to be so much they can do on some nights. I feel like mid-to-high 70s in wins, but Duncan and Tony La Russa find ways to make people wrong often.

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Posted on: March 11, 2011 9:30 pm
 

3 up, 3 down for 3/11: Trumbo on fire

By Matt Snyder

Get the lame nickname people ready, because this dude's last name rhymes with a certain floppy-eared elephant from a Disney classic.

3 UP

Mark Trumbo, Angels. The 25-year-old slugger has been on fire this spring and Friday was no different. Trumbo doubled, homered, drove home four runs and scored two. He's now hitting .389 this spring with four home runs and 11 RBI. He's currently stuck behind Kendrys Morales (1B) and Bobby Abreu (DH) on the depth chart for the major-league roster, but at some point the team can't leave him behind. He's already torn Triple-A pitching to shreds (36 HR, 122 RBI, .945 OPS last year in 139 games). He's hit at every level, so maybe it's time he gets a shot in the majors -- lest he become another Brandon Wood

Carlos Pena, Cubs. He entered Friday just 2-17 with nary an extra-base hit, but a home run and RBI single likely took a bit of mental weight off the free agent signee's shoulders.

Jeremy Hellickson, Rays. The 23-year-old phenom hadn't yet pitched this spring, as he's been hampered with hamstring tightness. No matter, his first outing was spotless. Just a simple perfect inning, and he struck one batter out.

3 DOWN

Jonathan Papelbon, Red Sox. Pretty solid meltdown for Paps, actually. He only got one out, but he walked three guys, hit one and allowed a hit. Before the book was closed, after his departure, three earned runs would be the final tally. Don't read anything into it. It's not uncommon for a guy to have poor command on March 11 and still be perfectly fine a month from now.

Gio Gonzalez, A's. Man, what a bum (please note sarcasm). Gonzalez hadn't yet allowed a run this spring. In fact, he hadn't even allowed a hit. So the outing Friday -- when he gave up four hits and one run -- may have looked poor by comparison, the conclusion is still a positive one.

Michael Pineda, Mariners. Man, what a bum, Part II. The burly Mariners prospect (he is 6-foot-7, 260 pounds) had not allowed a run through four spring innings prior to Friday. He gave up four hits and two runs in three innings to the Indians. But, like Gonzalez, the whole picture of his spring is a good one. He's still sporting a 2.57 ERA and opponents are only hitting .192 against him.

So, yeah, we picked two in "3 DOWN" that could have been positive ones. That's how we're deciding to roll today. Hey, it's Friday night.

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Posted on: March 1, 2011 12:34 am
Edited on: March 1, 2011 1:16 pm
 

Getting to know the Cubs

Posted by C. Trent Rosecrans

Mike Quade

KNOBLER: Cubs Camp Report -- All Smiles

MVP

MVP usually stands for Most Valuable Player -- but a player may not be the most valuable for the Cubs this season, instead the most valuable person could be manager Mike Quade. Quade didn't inherit the easiest job in the world -- the fact that it's been more than 100 years since the Cubs won the World Series is proof. Between managing the Psychiatrists' Row Rotation of Carlos Zambrano, Carlos Silva and Matt Garza and juggling a lineup full with the overpriced (Alfonso Soriano, Kosuke Fukudome), the past-their-prime (Aramis Ramirez, Carlos Pena) and the unproven (Starlin Castro), Quade's got some interesting parts, but it could just as easily spin out of control as it is to work out.

PLAYER ORACLE : Mordecai "Three Finger" Brown to Carlos Marmol

Mordecai Brown played with Bob O'Farrell for the 1916 Chicago Cubs

Bob O'Farrell played with Phil Cavarretta for the 1934 Chicago Cubs

Phil Cavarretta played with Minnie Minoso for the 1955 Chicago White Sox

Minnie Minoso played with Rich Gossage for the 1976 Chicago White Sox

Rich Gossage played with Greg Maddux for the 1988 Chicago Cubs

Greg Maddux played with Carlos Marmol for the 2006 Chicago Cubs

POP CULTURE

Whenever the Cubs win at Wrigley Field, they play a song called Go, Cubs, Go and the entire crowd sings along. The song was written in 1984 by Steve Goodman, a Chicago native and Cubs fan.

However, Go, Cubs, Go is just one of three Cubs song written by Goodman, along with A Dying Cubs Fan's Last Request and When the Cubs Go Marching In . The former is his masterpiece (and that's saying something when you're talking about the guy who wrote The City of New Orleans and You Never Even Called Me By My Name ) and also the impetus for Go Cubs Go .

When then-Cubs GM Dallas Green called A Dying Cubs Fan's Last Request "depressing," Goodman wrote Go, Cubs, Go out of spite. Goodman, was a realistic Cubs fan -- when he sang Take Me Out To the Ballgame he switched the lyrics to, "It's root, root, root, for the home team, if they don't win, what else is new," and A Dying Cubs Fan's Last Request is written in that tone. The kicker to the song is:

The dying man's friends told him to cut it out

They said stop it that's an awful shame

He whispered, "Don't Cry, we'll meet by and by near the Heavenly Hall of Fame

He said, "I've got season's tickets to watch the Angels now,

So its just what I'm going to do

He said, "but you the living, you're stuck here with the Cubs,

So its me that feels sorry for you!"

Goodman debuted the song in 1983, and then he died of leukemia on Sept. 20, 1984. Four days later, the Cubs clinched the Eastern Division title, only to fall to the Padres in the National League Championship Series. 


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Posted on: December 8, 2010 9:33 pm
Edited on: April 18, 2011 11:22 am
 

Video: Pena talks Cubs

Carlos Pena talks about raising his game in Chicago:



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Category: MLB
 
 
 
 
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