Tag:Javier Vazquez
Posted on: May 15, 2011 11:47 pm
 

3 up, 3 down: Big knock for Uggla



By Matt Snyder


Dan Uggla, Braves. In switching teams for the first time of his major-league career, it's been a rough start to the 2011 season for Uggla. He entered Sunday's game with a .196 batting average and .629 OPS (his career low in OPS is .805, back in 2007). Maybe his go-ahead, eighth-inning home run off Roy Halladay is what he needs to get hot. He went 2-3 to climb above the Mendoza line (.205) and also drew a walk. So he got on base three of four trips against one of the game's elite pitchers and played the part of hero with a late home run. That's a pretty solid day.

Justin Turner, Mets. The Mets were getting no-hit by Aneury Rodriguez through four innings, but by the end of the sixth, Turner had five RBI as the Mets put up seven runs in two frames -- and it was enough for the victory. Turner connected on a two-run double to tie the game at two in the fifth inning and then concluded the Mets' scoring with a three-run blast in the sixth. In those two at-bats, Turner knocked in more runs than he had in his first 36 at-bats in 2011.

J.J. Hardy, Orioles. Hardy -- from the nine-hole, mind you -- had the big blow for the Orioles in a 9-3 win over first-place Tampa Bay Sunday. He hit a grand slam in the sixth inning that made a 4-2 game into a laugher (8-2, math majors) instantly. On the day, Hardy was 2-5, which means he's hitting .400 (10-25) with two home runs and seven RBI since coming off the disabled list earlier this month. If Mark Reynolds would come around, the Orioles would actually have a pretty potent top-to-bottom batting order.




Javier Vazquez, Marlins. Vazquez is now 2-4 with a 7.55 ERA, but that doesn't even come close to describing how much of a burden he's been on the Marlins. That's because he's putting his team into a huge hole right out of the gate. Sunday, he coughed up six runs on six hits in the first inning alone -- including a two-RBI double by opposing pitcher Jason Marquis. Now, Marquis is one of the best hitting pitchers around, but he's still a pitcher. The Marlins would only score four runs all game, so it was essentially over after one inning. It shouldn't be surprising, as Vazquez has a 15.75 ERA in the first inning this season. That's an awful lot of pressure to put on your teammates to begin a game. Fish Tank blog notes that Vazquez could be in trouble of losing his spot in the rotation, but he's fortunate in that there aren't many good options waiting in the minors. He's just gotta get better, especially with the Marlins in what looks like a long-term three-team race in the strong NL East.

Brian Duensing, Twins. His grip on a job in the starting rotation may be slipping away. Duensing lasted just three innings Sunday against the Blue Jays, giving up eight hits and seven earned runs. Kevin Slowey is the obvious next in line, and he followed Duensing with six innings to finish the game. Fortunately for Duensing, Slowey allowed four earned runs in his six innings, but that's still better than Duensing -- and you've got to give Slowey a bit of a free pass with three of those runs coming on Jose Bautista homers. The best hitter on the planet at this point only accounted for one of the seven runs Duensing allowed.

Josh Willingham, A's. There's nothing really to say, other than to let the stat-line speak for itself. Willingham was 0-5 with four strikeouts and left seven men on base. Ouch.

BONUS DOWN: Mother Nature. Seriously, we the baseball fans in this great nation collectively cry "uncle." Prior to Sunday, there had already been more postponements this season than there were all of 2010, and now we can add three more to the list, as the Cubs-Giants, Mariners-Indians and Tigers-Royals games were postponed. This is a joke, and an unfunny one at that.

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Posted on: May 10, 2011 1:45 pm
Edited on: May 10, 2011 4:23 pm
 

Vazquez 'embarrassed' in performance



By Matt Snyder


For the first time since the second year of his career -- all the way back in 1999 for the now-defunct Montreal Expos -- Javier Vazquez is pitching poorly for an NL East ballclub. Last time he was in the NL East, 2009 for the Braves, Vazquez was 15-10 with a 2.87 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 238 strikeouts and finished fourth in Cy Young voting. Sure, his trip last season to the Bronx was a disaster, but he was returning to the NL East this season -- in a pitcher's park no less. He was supposed to be solid.

Instead, he's been nothing short of awful.

Vazquez has a 6.88 ERA and 1.87 WHIP through seven starts. It's relatively easy to simply pick up a quality start these days (six innings pitched and three earned runs allowed would suffice), but Vazquez only has one of those (and it was the six-inning, three-run minimum). He walked five guys that game, too, so it was hardly a good outing. Simply put, you could say Vazquez hasn't had a single good start this season.

Monday night, he gave up nine hits and six runs to the Phillies. He lasted only 4 1/3 innings and didn't strike out a single hitter. Nothing is working. Just ask him.

"I wish I had an explanation, but I've got nothing," he said (via Fish Bytes ). "Just frustrating. I'm embarrassed the way I'm throwing. Things aren't happening right now for me. Nothing's going right, so we've just got to keep working hard, battling, and hopefully I'll get through this. If not, then I'll be in trouble."

One thing that might be an issue is his fastball velocity is down about three miles per hour from 2009 (and all years prior). Throwing low-90s is a lot different than 88. That's where it was last season, too, so it's possible age has gotten the better of Vazquez. He's only 34, but has logged 2,682 2/3 major-league innings. From 2000-2009, he never threw less than 198 innings in any given season, averaging 216 per season in that stretch.

It might not be such a huge deal to have one member of the rotation underperforming so badly through 34 games of a 162-game slate, but the small-market Marlins are paying Vazquez $7 million and appear to be in the thick of a strong three-team race in the NL East with the mighty Phillies and Braves. They really need Vazquez to fix whatever it is that's ailing him or the prospects of hanging around through August in that tough division aren't great.

In related news, Vazquez was placed on the bereavement list Tuesday night (MLBlogs). He's returned to Puerto Rico to be with family due to a death in the family on his wife's side. He is expected to make his next scheduled start, which is Sunday.

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Category: MLB
Posted on: May 10, 2011 1:48 am
 

3 up, 3 down: Jackson comes through; Wells to DL

Jackson

By Evan Brunell

upEdwin Jackson, White Sox -- Jackson needed this game as Jake Peavy is returning Wednesday and the ChiSox are trying to figure out how to keep Phillip Humber in the rotation. There's been some talk of a six-man rotation -- at least until the team is confident that Peavy is back and will stay back. But a six-man rotation just isn't a good idea for a permanent solution. Jackson would have been the odd man out as he's been the worst starter so far. But on Monday, he delivered the potential that has caused so many teams to take a chance on him. He went seven strong against the Angels, allowing just one walk and whiffing five, while limiting L.A. to just five hits and zero runs. His ERA sank a full 0.69 points all the way down to 4.29. Ozzie Guillen's job just got a lot harder.

Josh Beckett, Red Sox -- As good as Jackson was, Beckett was just as good, posting an identical line save for giving up an extra hit. This marks the fifth excellent start by Beckett (including his rain delay-aborted 4 1/3 innings last time out) and drops his ERA to a pristine 1.99, which is good for fourth in the AL behind Trevor Cahill of Oakland and two Angels teammates in Jered Weaver and Dan Haren. Beckett's resurgence comes as welcome news to Boston who desperately needed a return to prominence from the right-hander for the team to be confident in success in the postseason. Imagine how much more compounded the struggles of Boston would have been if Beckett was delivering an ERA in the 6.00s instead of putting him in the early Cy Young Award chase.

Victor Martinez, Tigers -- Martinez only came off the DL last Wednesday but is on fire, as he has registered a hit in every single game upon his return. Given he had hits in his three previous games before his injury, that marks a nine-game hitting streak for V-Mart, who went 3-for-4 as the Tigers routed the Blue Jays for their sixth victory in seven games. Martinez scored two and drove in three, while all three of hits hits went for extra bases with two doubles and a home run. He's now hitting a cool .293/..344/.488 and has been everything Detroit hoped for when they surprised many with an aggressive offer that got V-Mart signed early in the offseason.  


downVernon Wells, Angels -- Wells hits the disabled list with a right groin strain, and the .183-hitting outfielder will get some time to ruminate on how best to turn around his slump. Wells has actually flashed some power by bashing three home runs in May but still has yet to start stringing hits together. His line on the season is .183/.224/.303, which easily "beats" Carl Crawford out for the worst line by a starting player in the game now that Crawford has gotten hot in May. It's awfully hard to contend that L.A. hasn't gotten better with this injury. The defensively-challenged outfielder will likely be replaced in the field by Bobby Abreu, who has his own defensive limitations but will allow the club to get both Alberto Callaspo and Macier Izturis in the lineup. It's not every day one says Callaspo is better than Wells, but here we are. (And let's quell the speculation; Mike Trout is not getting the call. Bank on Reggie Willits to serve as backup outfielder.)

Javier Vazquez, Marlins -- And the beat goes on, as Vazquez turns in yet another disappointing start in what is an early front-runner for worst free agent signing of the year. Sure, Vazquez is only on a one-year deal, but how many players earn $7 million a year for the Marlins? Anyways, Vazquez's downward spiral with a disappearing fastball and inability to spot his pitches continued by coughing up five earned runs (six total) to the Phillies, going just 4 1/3 with one walk and zero strikeouts and nine strikeouts. He didn't exactly set the tone for the game, giving up a leadoff homer to Jimmy Rollins. At this point, Florida needs to come up with a phantom injury to get Vazquez and his 6.88 ERA away from the team. It's clear he's not right and he needs to fix himself away from the club.

Ryan Ludwick, Padres -- Ryan Ludwick just doesn't like being a Padre, doesn't he? OK, part of it has to do with Petco Park, but still, it's remarkable how far he's fallen since being dealt from St. Louis. You have to give the Cardinals a hand for seeing the writing on the wall, as Ludwick went 0-for-4 on the night with three strikeouts to drop his overall line to .189/.283/.344. Not including Monday's game, Ludwick's career line as a Padre: .205/.298/.339. Someone get him to Coors Field, stat.

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Posted on: May 9, 2011 7:09 pm
 

On Deck: Cahill, Wilson battle for West supremacy

Cahill

By Evan Brunell

BEST MATCHUP: This is a nice meeting of pitchers who have been on fire all season. Trevor Cahill is seeking his sixth win and has yet to register a loss. The A's righty was in the Cy Young mix last year and is clearly inserting himself in the discussion this year. The 23-year-old pitched a bit over his head last year and while he is obviously doing so this season with a 1.79 ERA, he's taken another leap forward this season by upping his strikeout percentage. He'll be opposed by Rangers ace C.J. Wilson who continues to find the starting rotation to his liking. Now in his second season starting after being converted from relief, Wilson is 4-1 with a 2.92 ERA and is gearing up for a massive payday as a free agent. Both teams are scrapping to stay close to the first-place Angels. With identical 19-18 records, the loser will drop to .500 while the victor will hope for an Angels loss later that night to the White Sox to pull to within one game of the division lead. Athletics at Rangers, 8:05 p.m. ET

LOSING STREAK: The Rockies are losers of four straight and as Ian Stewart can tell you, manager Jim Tracy is getting irritable. Colorado is still in first, but its margin of error is down to one game. Fortunately, arguably the team's best pitcher in sophomore Jhoulys Chacin will toe the mound with a 2.83 ERA and has clearly proven his ability to handle Coors Field. The game is in the Rox's favor, as the Mets will counter with lefty Chris Capuano and his 5.40 ERA. Colorado swept the Mets in four games to begin the season, so the beginning of the series could be a welcome breath of air for the 18-14 squad. Rockies at Mets, 8:40 p.m. ET

FIRST PLACE BATTLES: Just like the Rangers, A's and Rockies, the Phillies and Marlins tonight will pit two teams at the top of the standings with a chance to take a step forward. The Phillies are clinging to first place despite an offense that hasn't delivered on its promise while the scorching Marlins are only two back. Unfortunately for Florida, the Phillies will have a shot to feast on Javier Vazquez who has done nothing to reverse his slide into mediocrity that began last season with the Yankees. The righty will look to drive his ERA below 6.00 while Philly counters with its own struggling Joe Blanton fresh off the disabled list. Blanton's 5.92 ERA isn't pretty, but allowed just four runs over his past 14 innings before hitting the shelf. Phillies at Marlins, 7:10 p.m. ET

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Posted on: May 4, 2011 5:46 pm
Edited on: May 4, 2011 5:47 pm
 

On Deck: Greinke's Brewer debut

Zack Greinke


By C. Trent Rosecrans

Greinke's debut -- As soon as the Brewers traded for Zack Greinke, they went from also-ran to NL Central favorite -- but Greinke's hoops dreams got in the way. Now Greinke's back and making his Brewer debut tonight against the Braves in the second game of the doubleheader. Greinke faces Braves ace Tim Hudson in his first start. With the Brewers entering the day within three games of the first-place Cardinals, he may just be motivated to try, which is good news for Milwaukee. Brewers at Braves, time TBA.

All's Wells that starts Beckett -- Vernon Wells' early-season struggles have been well chronicled -- he's hitting just .176/.227/.269 in his first year with the Angels (not exactly what you want for $86 million). But there's good news, in his 47 plate appearances against Red Sox starter Josh Beckett, he has five home runs and is hitting .293/.383/.756. Angels at Red Sox, 7:10 p.m. ET

Little help please -- St. Louis' Chris Carpenter is one of the game's best pitchers. So far this season he has 3.89 ERA with WHIP of 1.216 and 29 strikeouts in 37 innings. He has thrown five quality starts in his six outings this season, but has yet to win a game. It wasn't until his last start that the Cardinals actually won a game he started, although he left down a run in the seventh and Eduardo Sanchez picked up the win against the Braves. Javier Vazquez (2-2, 6.39 ERA) starts for Florida. Marlins at Cardinals, 8:15 p.m. ET

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Posted on: March 30, 2011 12:21 am
Edited on: March 30, 2011 1:58 pm
 

Jeter's 3,000th hit among milestones for 2011

Derek Jeter

By C. Trent Rosecrans

It's hard to believe that in the long, storied history of the New York Yankees, no player has reached 3,000 hits while wearing the pinstripes. Well, until this year.

With 2,926 hits, Derek Jeter is 74 hits from becoming the 28th player in baseball with 3,000 hits, passing such greats as Rogers Hornsby (2,930), Barry Bonds (2,935) and Frank Robinson (2,943) along the way.

Dave Winfield, Rickey Henderson and Wade Boggs all wore the uniform on their way to 3,000, but no Yankee has ever reached the mark. Jeter already holds the record for most hits in a Yankee career, passing Lou Gehrig (2,721) in 2009.

Jeter also has a chance not only to become the first Yankee with 3,000 hits, but also to do it at home. Last year Jeter rapped his 74th hit on June 6. The year before, it was June 12, and in 2008 it came on June 19. This season the Yankees have a homestead against the Red Sox, Indians and Rangers from June 7-16.

While Jeter's run to 3,000 hits will get the most attention of any milestone in 2011, it's not the only one.

Jim Thome Jim Thome enters the season with 589 home runs and is just 11 from becoming the eighth player in history to reach 600. From there, he can move up the all-time list as Sammy Sosa is seventh with 609.

At 613 home runs, Alex Rodriguez needs 18 homers to pass his one-time teammate Ken Griffey Jr. (630) and 48 to pass Willie Mays (660).

Manny Ramirez has 555 home runs, but after a nine-homer 2010 and 19 in 2009, 45 homers this season doesn't seem likely. His career-high is 45, hitting that many in 1998 and 2005.

The 400 home run list isn't quite the feat it once was, but three players -- Paul Konerko (365), Adam Dunn (354) and David Ortiz (349) -- are knocking on the door.

Speaking of 400, Johnny Damon is 15 stolen bases from reach 400 for his career. He had 11 last season. Ichiro Suzuki is 17 stolen bases shy of 400 -- he had 42 last season.

Jimmy Rollins needs two triples for 100 in his career. 

While it won't get much attention, Hideki Matsui has 493 career homers combined between Japan and the United States, putting 500 within reach.

Rounding the Bases

How unlikely is it we see another 300-game winner anytime soon? The career leader in wins among active pitchers (besides the inured Jamie Moyer and his 267 victories) is Tim Wakefield, who has 193. Not only does he need seven wins to get to 200, he only needs to yield 11 hits to have surrendered 3,000 in his career (interestingly, 124 pitchers in baseball history have allowed 3,000 hits).

Javier Vazquez has 2,374 career strikeouts, leaving him 126 strikeouts short of becoming the 30th pitcher to strike out 2,500. Vazquez had 121 last season with the Yankees, so if he's healthy for the Marlins this season he should be close.

And, of course, there's the other great Yankee, Mariano Rivera, who is 41 saves from becoming just the second pitcher in history to record 600 saves.  He's 43 saves away from taking over the all-time lead from Trevor Hoffman, who retired after last season with 601. 

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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 1:06 pm
Edited on: March 11, 2011 1:08 pm
 

Vazquez shows improved velocity

By Evan Brunell

VazquezOn Wednesday, Javier Vazquez landed in the 3 up, 3 down piece celebrating the best and worst performers of that day's game. The right-hander gave up just one run in four innings, punching out three and walking none. That's a marked turnaround from the type of lines Vazquez would post as a Yankee in 2010, when his fastball's velocity tailed off drastically to the 88-mph range.

The velocity question has been a large part of Vazquez's life recently and he made strides in that department after being clocked at 90 and 91 mph Wednesday, an improvement from his first outing and 2010 season as a whole.

"In talking to him, he liked the way he threw the ball the way he did with Atlanta two years ago," pitching coach Randy St. Claire told MLB.com. "We're trying to get close to that delivery. So after his first outing, you could see he used his lower body a whole lot more than he did in the first game."

That lower-body increase may be responsible for the velocity jump. Vazquez has gotten away from the delivery recently as his mechanics were out of whack with the Yankees and his delivery continued to be altered throughout the year to try to get any semblance of consistency out of the 13-season veteran.

"In his last two games, I've seen a better lower-half. His numbers started to pick up, where he is touching 90-91, after it was 86-87 in his first game. You can see it with your eyes. You can see it on the video. I'm going to work with him to keep that feeling that this is the delivery."

If the Marlins can get Vazquez back to the production he displayed while with Atlanta in 2009, it would be an incredible boon to the team. He finished fourth in Cy Young voting that season by hurling 219 1/3 innings of a 2.87 ERA.

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