Play Fantasy The Most Award Winning Fantasy game with real time scoring, top expert analysis, custom settings, and more. Play Now
 
Tag:Daisuke Matsuzaka
Posted on: April 18, 2011 4:45 pm
Edited on: April 18, 2011 4:50 pm
 

Amidst boos, Dice-K deals for Red Sox

By Matt Snyder

As Daisuke Matsuzaka took the mound in Boston Monday morning -- isn't that really weird to say? -- on Patriots Day, he was greeted with boos from the Fenway faithful. And why not? He'd been downright brutal thus far in 2011 after lackluster seasons in 2009 and 2010.

Entering the game Monday, Dice-K had a line that showed an 0-2 record with a 12.86 ERA and a 2.71 WHIP. He'd labored just to get through the seven innings he did complete in the two starts, and was racking up far too many pitches early in the game -- leading to taxing the bullpen. All this from a guy making eight figures a year.

Monday couldn't have been more different.

Matsuzaka worked seven innings, only allowing one hit (a single) and one walk. His ERA and WHIP were trimmed all the way to 6.43 and 1.50. But the major stat-lines were not what was most impressive. It was the efficiency. Something Dice-K's rarely done even in good seasons. He needed just 89 pitches to get through the seven innings. He threw 58 strikes to 31 balls. He only struck out three guys, which isn't really anything to be excited about, but it showed a willingless to allow the opposition to put the ball in play. He trusted his defense. That's one of the big problems that has been noticable for Dice-K the past two-plus seasons, in that he seems to try and be so fine in an attempt to strike guys out and instead can't throw enough strikes.

We can't stress enough that it was just one outing. Next time out, Matsuzaka could easily regress back to what he's been for quite a while. Still, it has to be an encouraging outing for the Red Sox, who have know won three in a row for the first time in 2011.

If nothing else, at least he was able to get rid of the boos, much to the joy of third baseman Kevin Youkilis.

“One thing that was a little shocking was before the game he got booed,” Youkilis said. “It’s funny how he came off the field, everyone was cheering. It’s kind of foot-in-the-mouth right there but it’s good how he responded to that, too.” (WEEI.com )

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

Posted on: April 12, 2011 12:35 pm
Edited on: April 12, 2011 1:00 pm
 

Is it time for Boston to ditch Matsuzaka?

Daisuke Matsuzka

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Last night was Daisuke Matsuzaka's 100th career start in the big leagues -- and many in Boston are calling for it to be his last.

A Tampa offense that took five games to score seven runs this season needed only two innings to match that mark against Matsuzaka on Monday, an eventual 16-5 loss to the Red Sox.

In his 100 starts with the Red Sox, Matsuzaka's gone 46-29 with a 4.28 ERA and 1.408 WHIP, striking out 546, with those strikeout numbers decreasing with every year he's spent in the United States. His strikeout rate has gone from 8.8 per nine innings in 2007 to 7.8 last season and 5.1 in his two starts this season. Since his fourth-place finish in the Cy Young race in 2008, he's gone 13-14 with a 5.34 ERA.

In 2007, Matsuzaka had more hype than an iPad and the Red Sox paid a Steve Jobs-level price tag, too. Boston spend $51,111,111.11 just to negotiate with Matsuzaka before signing him to a six-year, $52 million contract. With two years and $20 million left on that contract, he's going to be tough to trade -- not even taking into account his no-trade clause.

The Boston Globe's Peter Abraham wrote this Tuesday morning:

The Red Sox would have to eat a bunch of money and they probably wouldn't get much back for him, maybe just a couple of mid-level prospects.

But it has to be done.

That sounds like a stretch, too. While Fenway Park isn't the kindest of habitats for pitchers, it doesn't appear a simple change of scenery is going to turn Matsuzaka around. His numbers are better on the road -- 23-13, 3.88 ERA and 1.355 WHIP away from Fenway and 23-16 with a 4.72 ERA and a 1.465 WHIP at home -- but not so dramatically different for some team to take much of a chance on Matsuzaka.

Matsuzaka may or may not accept a trade, but who do the Red Sox have to replace him in the rotation? The answer is not much.

Tim Wakefield, 44, wasn't much better than Matsuzaka, relieving him and lasting just 3 1/3 innings, allowing seven hits and five runs with no strikeouts.

The next choice would likely be 28-year-old right-hander Alfredo Aceves. In three games this season, he's allowed three hits and two earned runs, striking out five in 5 2/3 innings. Aceves started four games for the Yankees in 2008, but just one game since.

Lefty Felix Doubront has started in the past, but his injury history -- including a sore elbow in spring -- could make the team gun-shy about putting him in the rotation.

At the minor-league level, the choices aren't a whole lot better, with the top two likely being veterans Matt Fox or Brandon Duckworth. 

Fox, 28, started one game for the Twins last season before the team waived him. The Red Sox picked up the former first-rounder and he pitched three games out of the bullpen last season.

Duckworth, 35, is 23-34 with a 4.50 ERA in 134 appearances and is 20-30 with a 5.11 ERA in 84 career starts with the Phillies, Astros and Royals.

As bad as Matsuzaka has been, Aceves may be the only option with a chance to be better, and he only has five starts in his MLB career.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed. 
Posted on: April 12, 2011 1:21 am
Edited on: April 12, 2011 2:03 am
 

3 up, 3 down for 4/11: Pitching driving Tribe

By Matt Snyder

3UP

Mitch Talbot, Indians. Actually, we could put the entire Tribe starting rotation here. It's been incredible during the eight-game Cleveland winning streak. During that span, Talbot, Justin Masterson, Fausto Carmona, Carlos Carrasco and Josh Tomlin have combined for a 1.55 ERA (hat-tip to Jordan Bastian ). Monday it was Talbot's turn, and he went eight shutout innings, allowing the Angels only five hits and two walks while striking out four. He was given four runs by his offense in the first two innings and cruised to victory.

Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies. The shortstop got his team on the scoreboard with an RBI single in the third, kept the Mets off the board with an incredible defensive play to end the seventh and then hit a two-run shot in the eighth that would prove to be the eventual difference in a 7-6 Rockies win.

Lance Berkman, Cardinals. When he came to bat in the seventh, he was still without his first home run as a Cardinal. Before the game was over, he had two.

3DOWN

Daisuke Matsuzaka, Red Sox. I tweeted during the game that the difference in Josh Beckett's stuff from Sunday night to Dice-K's stuff Monday was like going from varsity to junior high. Allow me to alter that sentiment. It was more like varsity to little league. There's just no bite on any of his pitches and he doesn't even seem to command anything well. He somehow made it through two innings, giving up eight hits, seven earned runs, two home runs and two walks.

Juan Pierre, White Sox. Yes, Pierre had to run a long way. Yes, Matt Thornton has now blown three saves without converting any. Still, Pierre needs to make that catch on the warning track. If it happens, maybe Thornton finally gets off the schneid with his first save. Instead, the White Sox lose in extra innings. And, by the way, that was the second time Pierre's dropped a fly with Thornton on the hill this season.

Felix Hernandez, Mariners. It was a rare off-night for the King. He was battered by the Blue Jays to the tune of seven earned runs on 12 hits in six innings. Of course ...

Special bonus entry: The Blue Jays' bullpen. It was 7-0 after six innings. A Milton Bradley solo homer in the seventh made it a seemingly innocent 7-1 tally. Then the eighth inning happened. David Purcey allowed two singles and a walk. Octavio Dotel walked two -- both forcing runs home. Marc Rzepczynski came in and walked in another before allowing a single. All of a sudden, it was 7-6. Shawn Camp did get out of the inning, but lost it in the ninth -- eventually on a two-RBI knock by Luis Rodriguez. The simple math? After the eighth inning began, the Mariners scored seven runs before the Blue Jays could record a sixth out. Four pitchers failed to varying degrees.

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

Posted on: March 26, 2011 11:37 am
Edited on: April 18, 2011 12:33 pm
 

Pepper: Japanese players coping

Daisuke Matsuzaka

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Sometimes the nature of our 24/7 news cycle makes us forget -- or at least move on from -- even the biggest of news stories get lost in the next big story.

Even though Japan is still dealing with the destruction of the earthquake and tsunami -- and will be for years -- we're not hearing as much about Japan right now. It's only natural. But that doesn't mean that everything's OK there.

Yankees pitcher Kei Igawa went to Japan last weekend and was deeply moved by what he saw.

"It was pretty disastrous," Igawa told the New York Daily News through an interpreter. "The roads were a mess, and when I was home, the water wasn't running. It was pretty hard for me."

Igawa's parents and family are OK, but keep in mind his hometown of Oarai well south of the epicenter and 100 miles from the damaged nuclear plant in Fukushima. He said his house didn't suffer flooding, but did suffer damage from the earthquake.

The Yankees allowed him to return home, where he spent five days and returned earlier this week.

"Compared to the rest of the country -- especially up north, where it was much worse, I feel really fortunate," Igawa said. "I wanted to stay home a little longer, because my family and friends are going through  hard time. But I also had to resume baseball, because that's my job."

Igawa will start the season in Triple-A. He's in the final year of his five-year, $20 million contract.

Many other Japanese players are trying to come to terms with what's going on at home, as well.

"Fortunately, I am a survivor, but it hurts, of course," the Angels Hisanori Takahashi told the Los Angeles Times through an interpreter. "It has definitely been difficult to focus on baseball.

"Seeing all the [TV] footage, you get a little numb, but it's a real thing. I have to keep my eye on the tragedy, but I also have to play baseball here."

Red Sox starter Daisuke Matsuzaka said he's still too emotional about the situation to discuss it publicly, but he showed how he felt by giving $1 million to the Red Sox Foundation, which is giving all that money to the Japanese Red Cross Society to help fund relief efforts. The Red Sox said Hideki Okajima, Junichi Tazawa and Itsuki Shoda have also made personal donations through the Red Sox Foundation.

Matsuzaka joins fellow stars Ichiro Suzuki (100 million yen, roughly $1.2 million) and Hideki Matsui (50 million yen, roughly $620,000) in making large donations to the Red Cross for relief efforts in Japan.

BATISTA FINED -- Reliever Miguel Batista was the only Cardinal fined for last week's scuffle between the Cardinals and the Nationals. Batista hit Washington's Ian Desmond to start the fracas. [St. Louis Post-Dispatch]

BUCK FALLOUT -- We've already had Buck Showalter backpedaling about his comments to Men's Health about his comments on Derek Jeter and the Red Sox. Derek Jeter, not surprisingly, wouldn't comment on Showalter's comment. However, a look at the stats say Showalter's wrong -- Jeter actually doesn't get the calls on the inside corder. [ESPN]

TULO'S FINAL FOUR -- Finally, a Final Four that matters. You can now vote for one of four songs Troy Tulowitzki will use for his at-bat music. Well, to me they're all crap, but I'm not the target audience. Tulowitzki had "Party in the USA" last year, so the selections this year are just as bad -- "Firework" by Katy Perry, "Baby" by Justin Bieber, "We R Who We R" by Ke$ha and "Yeah 3X" by Chris Brown. Vote here. [Denver Post]

THE LEGEND BEGINS -- I'm reading Jane Leavy's The Last Boy  about Mickey Mantle right now, so I knew about the legend of Mickey Mantle's home run at USC in 1961. Well, the Los Angeles Times remembers it too. A really cool story on the birth of the legend of the Mick.

MILLWOOD GOOD? -- Is Kevin Millwood really that bad? Looking at some of the recent pitchers to have 16 losses and an 82 ERA+ like Millwood did last season shows some pretty decent pitchers have done that before. [Baseball-Reference.com blog]

HE'S NOT FAT, HE'S BLOATED -- Dodgers shortstop Rafael Furcal explains he was bloated from medication, not fat when spring training started. Furcal ate contaminated meat in his native Dominican Republic in January and the drugs he took made him bloated. He looked big when he checked in, but he was just 193 pounds, about the same he usually checked in at. He's now at 188, just about where he likes to play. [Los Angeles Times]

D-BACKS BULLPEN ISN'T BORING -- Diamondbacks bullpen catcher Jeff Motuzas has discovered bored, rich relievers will pay people to amuse them. So, Motuzas takes on dares to pick up extra bucks. Among the things he's done -- snorted wasabi, eater regurgitated yogurt, left hot balm on his shaved armpits for an entire game and gotten shot in the earlobe with a BB gun. Livan Hernandez once paid him $3,000 to drink a gallon of milk in 12 minutes. The two also had a deal that Hernandez could punch him in the junk for $50 a pop -- with a $300 bonus after every 10th punch. [Wall Street Journal]

BUT IS HE WRONG? -- An anonymous "MLB star" had several things to say to  ESPN the Magazine about the Tigers' Miguel Cabrera, including "why isn't Cabrera paying a guy $100 a night to drive him around? Plenty of guys do that. That he didn't is a slap in his teammates' faces." [MLive.com]

ROCK THE KAZMIR -- Mike Scioscia didn't sound too optimistic about Scott Kazmir when he announced the lefty had made the team's rotation. If Kazmir struggles continue into the regular season, Matt Palmer may be an option. [Los Angeles Times]

TOGETHER WE'RE GIANT -- Our buddy Will Brinson loves the Giants commercials. I found them amusing, but still not as good as the Mariners commercials. I like the Cardinals ones better, too.

RIGGLEMAN DOESN'T CARE ABOUT YOUR STATS -- You've seen some good commercials, now listen to a bad one. The Washington Nationals, MASN and Jim Riggleman are attacking stats in their newest campaign. Apparently a bunt or a "well-placed single" are "smart" -- and the walk is recognized as a good thing. But yeah, a pretty silly campaign.

THE NATURAL ON THE HILL -- Robert Redford will throw out the first pitch at the Cubs' opener on April 1 against the Pirates. [Chicago Tribune]

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed. 
Posted on: March 16, 2011 11:02 am
Edited on: March 16, 2011 12:34 pm
 

Pepper: Sign spring's end is near



By Matt Snyder


How can you best tell when spring is winding down and the real Major League Baseball season is nearing? Well, a few things. The snow finally stops falling. I guess, though this year who really knows. It's liable to snow at some places into May at this rate. Another good sign is watching the NCAA basketball tournament on CBS (shameless plug alert). How about baseball teams starting to name -- or get close to naming -- a fifth starting pitcher? That's a pretty good one, and it's happening in a lot of different places right now.

We've already passed along that Mark Rogers has been demoted, which leaves Wily Peralta the Brewers' likely five . We've also noted Michael Pineda being in Seattle's driver's seat as well. But there are plenty more.

Esmil Rogers looks like he's opening up a lead over John Maine and Greg Reynolds for the Rockies, after working five innings Tuesday and only facing the minimum 15 batters. (Denver Post )

Brandon McCarthy has gotten in the good graces of manager Bob Geren for being "impressive" and "consistent" in looking to win the A's fifth starting job behind a pretty underrated top four of Trevor Cahill, Brett Anderson, Dallas Braden and Gio Gonzalez. (San Francisco Chronicle )

Ever since Adam Wainwright went down with injury and the Cardinals said they were going to look internally, Kyle McClellan has been the front-runner to take the remaining spot. And every outing since then, he's gotten rave reviews and been tabbed as the front-runner. Thus, it would be pretty shocking if he didn't get the job. Still, the word from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch is that McClellan is merely "closer" to getting the nod.

Speaking of shocking, it would be just as shocking if Randy Wells doesn't win one of the Cubs' two remaining rotation slots. He's throwing well this spring and has the past experience. It also appears that former first-round pick Andrew Cashner is putting some distance between himself and the rest of the field as well. We'll get back to Cashner in a second. (MLB.com )

Of course, there is one team a bit behind the curve here. The Texas Rangers, your defending American League champs, still have a whopping seven guys in the mix for two spots. If a decision is made to start Neftali Feliz, one that seems increasingly likely with each passing day, that narrows the field to six guys for one spot. Those six: Derek Holland, Matt Harrison, Michael Kirkman, Alexi Ogando, Dave Bush and Eric Hurley. (Fort Worth Star-Telegram )

THE PROFESSOR: Of the two nicknames you see listed for Greg Maddux on baseball-reference.com, I always preferred "the Professor," even though it's nowhere near mainstream. He was so much more cerebral than his opposition, seemingly getting guys out just with his mind. Thus, it's only fitting he's passing along some knowledge to Cashner in Cubs camp as a special assistant. His latest nugget? "Walks are overrated." It's not surprising, coming from a guy who probably never walked someone by accident in his prime. Those who remember watching him in the mid-90s are nodding in agreement. You could feel when Maddux was walking someone on purpose; otherwise it didn't happen. Oh, and if Maddux's wisdom isn't enough, Kerry Wood has also taken Cashner under his wing. (Chicago Tribune )

RUSSELL THE MUSCLE: Hey, someone has to fill the void left by Mark Reynolds -- both in terms of power and strikeouts. Despite his lackluster defense -- which is reportedly a concern for manager Kirk Gibson -- Russell Branyan is turning heads by killing the ball this spring, to the tune of a 1.274 OPS. And don't scoff. While Branyan has a bad batting average and strikeout issues, his career OPS-plus is 115 and he averages 31 home runs over the course of 162 games. He need only hold off Juan Miranda and once-big prospect Brandon Allen. (MLB.com )

NO WORRIES: Clayton Kershaw was torched Tuesday by the Rangers, but Dodgers manager Don Mattingly isn't worried about his likely ace. Nor should he be, considering it's only the spring and Kershaw entered the game with a 0.00 ERA through 11 1/3 innings. (Los Angeles Times )

SWITCHBACK: Prior to the ALDS last year, the rules for the dreaded catwalk at Tropicana Field were altered, but now those rules are reverting back to where they were in the regular season of 2010. Check out the complete list on St. Petersburg Times .

GETTING GRADY BACK: Sunday could be the day. Grady Sizemore hasn't seen game action in about 10 months, but reportedly he has a real shot to play Sunday. Obviously huge news for the Tribe. (Cleveland.com )

KEEPING DICE-K: There's been a lot of talk about the Red Sox trading Daisuke Matsuzaka of late. Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe makes a good case to fans that Dice-K is actually a pretty average major-league pitcher and that, as the fifth starter, that's really all the team needs. Put the absurd salary aside and just enjoy the good Red Sox team, he pleads. I tend to agree. (Boston Globe )

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

 

More MLB coverage


Posted on: March 12, 2011 6:14 pm
Edited on: March 12, 2011 6:25 pm
 

Red Sox may trade Matsuzaka, Cameron, more

By Evan Brunell

MatsuzakaThe Red Sox are busy making several players available for trade, reports Gordon Edes of ESPN Boston. Players thought to be available include right-handers Daisuke Matsuzaka (pictured) and Tim Wakefield along with outfielders Mike Cameron or Darnell McDonald and shortstop Marco Scutaro.

Out of these names, Matsuzaka is both the most well-known and also unlikeliest to be traded. After taking America by storm his first two seasons in town -- nabbing a ring in his rookie campaign back in 2007 -- Matsuzaka has struggled with injuries, integrating himself into the clubhouse and being completely ineffective as his 11.42 ERA in three spring training starts reveals.

"His rhythm was all out of whack,'' the source who indicated Dice-K was on the block said. "I don't know if it's because that's what the team wants, but I think he's become too much of a conventional pitcher. He's got to go back to pitching 'left-handed' again, dropping down at times, throwing from all kinds of angles, turning the ball over. He's not doing that as much.''

Matsuzaka has a full no-trade clause and is due $20 million over the next two seasons, making it difficult for a team to jump for Matsuzaka, no matter the talent that caused Boston to splurge for a $51.1 million posting fee just to talk to the Japanese phenom. However, there are enough teams in need of pitching and Matsuzaka's ace-caliber talents remain hidden somewhere in his body. It appears, though, that both Matsuzaka and the Red Sox are ready to move on, and Boston would do just that if they could add a young catcher to the team.

The Red Sox are set to go into the season with Jarrod Saltalamacchia starting with team captain Jason Varitek backing up. While the club has a few young catchers in the minors, they lack someone with a high ceiling. Despite Salty's pedigree, he has yet to put it all together in the majors and Boston would doubtless prefer to create more depth in the position.

One potential thought could be the Nationals, who have Wilson Ramos and Jesus Flores as young catchers. While Ramos is expected to open the year as backup catcher to Ivan Rodriguez and eventually supplant the Hall of Fame catcher, Flores is out of options. Flores is likely of little concern to Boston, who would prefer a player they can send to the minors and groom. Washington has such a catcher in Derek Norris, who was ranked as the No. 47 prospect in all of baseball by CBS Sports.

However, while the Nationals would love to stockpile quality pitching and could be intrigued by Matsuzaka, all the issues surrounding the 30-year-old and Norris' ceiling would make any such deal difficult to bridge unless Boston is willing to eat some salary.

Red Sox

If the Red Sox do move Matsuzaka, it would open up a hole in the rotation that could be filled by Tim Wakefield, reliever Alfredo Aceves or prospects Felix Doubront and Andrew Miller.

However, Wakefield is thought to be on the block himself despite stating he has no interest in playing for another team. Due just $1.5 million in 2011, the Red Sox could dangle the swingman for left-handed relief. The club has no shortage of left-handed relievers in camp vying for a job, but none are clear front-runners. If both Wakefield and Matsuzaka remain, the knuckleballer will pitch out of the bullpen.

Also available are backup outfielders Mike Cameron and Darnell McDonald. Cameron is due $7.25 million in the final year of a two-year deal. Slated to start in center for the Red Sox last season, injuries derailed his season and now have him set to be the No. 4 outfielder. McDonald, meanwhile, took advantage of all the playing time afforded him in the outfield last season to finally establish himself in the majors after being a minor-league journeyman. He's making the league minimum so is the more valuable outfielder from a cost perspective, although Cameron holds the edge on offense and defense, which he is renowned for.

The Red Sox do need right-handed outfielders to complement their all-lefty outfielder along with DH David Ortiz, also a lefty. Given right fielder J.D. Drew has a checkered injury past, there's plenty of playing time in store for Cameron and McDonald. One of them is being made available likely to fill more pressing holes, such as left-handed relief. In addition, both outfielders rake against left-handers and are effectively filling the same role.

Cameron and McDonald could draw interest from the Phillies, who have to deal with top prospect Domonic Brown (No. 3 on the Top 100 prospects list) fracturing his hamate bone and likely out for all of April. He appears ticketed for Triple-A after that given his poor start to spring training and newfound need to get at-bats. That opens up a gaping hole in right field for Philly, trying to withstand the loss of incumbent Jayson Werth while worrying about replacing the offense of second baseman Chase Utley, who is unlikely to begin the season with the team. Backup outfielder Ben Francisco is expected to win the starting role.

The Phillies already have a payroll in the mid-$160 million range and would like to avoid paying a payroll tax that would be incurred upon hitting $178 million, so while Cameron makes more sense to become the starter, McDonald appears the more cost-effective solution who could platoon with Francisco as well as fill in for Raul Ibanez in left field. The Red Sox would replace their backup outfield spot with one of Ryan Kalish, Josh Reddick or Daniel Nava.

Boston will also listen to offers on starting shortstop Marco Scutaro, who is in the final year of a two-year pact paying $5 million. He would be attractive to other teams given the price and ability to play second, short and third base, with a team option of $5 million for 2012 or a player option of $3 million. The Sox are able to listen to offers on Scutaro thanks to the play of backup Jed Lowrie, who has struggled with injuries the last few years but turned heads with his play late last season. The club also has heralded prospect Jose Iglesias (No. 36) who is widely considered Boston's shortstop of the future. While he could stand to cut his teeth a bit more in the minors with the bat, it wouldn't be outrageous for Boston to promote him.

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

More MLB coverage

 

Posted on: March 11, 2011 11:01 am
Edited on: March 11, 2011 11:51 am
 

Pepper: Wagner coach at 28; Japan quake fallout

Pepper

By Evan Brunell

These days are certainly different for Ryan Wagner, a 2003 first-round pick of the Reds. He debuted that same year at age 21 and looked as if he would deliver on his promise, but injuries and attrition caused him to struggle over the next two years before being dealt to the Nationals in a contentious deal, with Cincinnati later alleging that the Nationals then-GM Jim Bowden wasn't up-front about the injury issues of reliever Gary Majewski. 

With the Nats, Wagner was nothing more than a fungible reliever who regressed in effectiveness before undergoing surgery for a torn labrum in 2007. After two years of trying to rehab the injury, Wagner called it quits in 2009. And now, he's a 28-year-old manager, accepting a job with the Victoria Generals in the Texas Collegiate League, a college summer league.

"The college level is where I want to be," Wagner said. "I love coaching the younger boys, but it's definitely a slowdown from the big leagues.

"With the little kids, it's fun teaching the fundamentals and watching them grow. But a lot of these kids are D-I players and when you tell them something they are able to make the adjustments." (Victoria Advocate)

DEVASTATION IN JAPAN: While Americans were sleeping soundly, Japan was the victim of the worst earthquake since 1900, measuring 8.9 on the Richter scale. A tsunami developed that will hit Hawaii, but isn't expected to devastate the island. Other places, such as Thailand, may not be so lucky. In the midst of all this, Japan has canceled all professional baseball games for Saturday along with other major sporting events. (Yakyubaya.com)

CONCERN FOR GRANDMOTHER: There are plenty of Japanese ballplayers and media members stateside for spring training that have left many scrambling to contact friends and family. One such player is Daisuke Matsuzaka, who has heard from his family and friends but has not been able to reach his grandmother. (Boston Herald)

Yankees LEGEND OK: Yogi Berra suffered a fall at Yankees spring training camp Thursday and was taken to the hospital as a precaution. The Hall of Famer is doing just fine and may even return to camp Friday. (New York Daily News)

STUPID IS AS STUPID DOES: Stephen Strasburg has had a Twitter account for several months but only recently has been tweeting with any frequency. One such tweet yesterday: "Keeping it freaking stupid with coach today!" Who knows what that means, but good to know. (Washington Post)

WILD THING: "Adaptable, even-tempered and not easily rattled" were words used to describe Charlie Sheen. Huh. Interesting. But these words are from the Sheen of three decades ago when he was a relief pitcher for Santa Monica High School. Sheen served as a "very efficient" bullpen ace, coach Jose Lopez recalls. (Los Angeles Times)

MORE Mets MESS: Everyone knows about the Wilpons' struggle to hang onto the Mets in light of the Bernie Madoff scandal, but there's an entirely different scandal being dealt with at this point. Back in November, the Mets fired team employee Charlie Samuels, who admitted to gambling on baseball and also provided mob associates with insider tips. He is also under investigation for stealing memorabilia from the Mets clubhouse and then selling them. The New York Police Department's Organized Crime and Control Bureau was at Mets camp Thursday to interview players and employees about Samuels in the hope of ferreting out more information for the case. Baseball investigators were also on hand to see if illegal gambling is being conducted by other employees and players. Investigators spoke to people with close ties to Samuels, such as  Mike Piazza and Francisco Rodriguez. (New York Daily News)

AN ENTIRELY DIFFERENT GAME: Rockies manager Jim Tracy finally got Denver Nuggets basketball coach George Karl in town, with Karl assisting Tracy in managing Thursday's game. While Karl's the basketball guru, he may have had a hand in Todd Helton cracking a double, speaking to the first baseman just before the at-bat. A bit of a stretch, but whatever, it's spring training. (Denver Post)

QUESTIONING COLE: MLB Trade Rumors has a bunch of questions for college pitcher Gerrit Cole, who should be a top-five pick in the upcoming amateur draft. Cole was plucked out of high school by the Yankees, but opted to go to UCLA and doesn't regret the decision. Also in the interview: Cole's relaying of a Charlie Sheen story. (MLB Trade Rumors)

OZZIE'S IMPRESSED: Dayan Viciedo has impressed manager Ozzie Guillen the most at spring training. The Cuban defector is currently converting to right field from third base as he looks unable to field the position and first base is locked up. Viciedo was hitting .476 in spring training games but a fractured right thumb will sideline him about a month and guarantees a ticket to Triple-A, which was likely coming regardless. If he can show some semblance of plate discipline, he could be a nice bat for years to come. (Chicago Sun-Times)

ON THE WAY BACK: Erik Bedard was one of the better left-handed starters in the game but missed all of 2010 and had just 30 games started combined between 2009-10. Clearly, Seattle's trade for Bedard hasn't quite worked out, but the lefty had a strong start Thursday and felt he was approaching how he felt during his 2006-07 run. That's all well and good, but the 31-year-old needs to actually pitch in a major league game multiple times before anyone gets excited. (MLB.com)

BIG SWEAT: Dennys Reyes makes himself known to Red Sox fans, as the portly left-hander appears all but a lock to snag a spot in the Red Sox bullpen as the requisite lefty. Reyes has quite an interesting story of how he dislocated his right shoulder, which forced him to begin throwing left-handed. He didn't get the shoulder treated, which is why his right shoulder has a six-inch hunch over the left and still causes him pain on certain fielding plays. (Boston Herald)

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

More MLB coverage

Posted on: March 10, 2011 6:06 pm
 

Dice-K still struggling, Francona not worried

By Matt Snyder

Even though we've only witnessed three starts, it's been a rough spring thus far for Daisuke Matsuzaka. The Red Sox's right-hander was shelled Thursday for five runs on five hits in 3 2/3 innings. His spring ERA is 11.42.

Now, normally this wouldn't be a cause for concern, but the Japanese import has been pretty bad the past two seasons after finishing fourth in Cy Young voting back in 2008. He wasn't near as brutal last season as he was in 2009, but still, a 4.69 ERA and 1.37 WHIP aren't really what the Red Sox ponied up top dollar for back in 2007. He still walks hitters at an incredibly high rate and gets knocked around when he does find the plate. ESPN's Buster Olney noted Thursday (via Twitter ) that some rival scouts have clocked Dice-K at just 87-90 mph and wonder if he's slowly building his arm strength. But what if he's not? Hard to get guys out with that heat and breaking stuff that doesn't consistently find the plate.

For his part, Red Sox manager Terry Francona says he isn't worried (Boston Globe ).
"I think he's in great shape. I think his shoulder's strong. The ball's coming out. He's what, eight, nine innings into camp and he hasn't commanded at times. I don't think that means he's out of shape or he's disappointing," the manager said. "A couple of outings haven't been good. I don't think we're going to pack in the season after March 9th or whatever."
It's hard to argue with that, and I'd do so with any truly established pitcher coming off a good season, or even a bad one following many good ones. But a horrible season followed by a mediocre-at-best season means the pitcher is under the microscope in spring training, whether the team likes it or not. If things don't start improving before the regular season you might start to hear Red Sox Nation pining for Tim Wakefield or even Andrew Miller.

Of course, it is worth mentioning that Dice-K is only being counted on as the fifth starter behind a pretty stacked top four -- Jon Lester, Josh Beckett, John Lackey and Clay Buchholz. He'll enter the season as the five and need only not be horrific to keep that spot.

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

 

More MLB coverage
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com