Tag:Juan Pierre
Posted on: March 7, 2011 12:45 pm
Edited on: March 7, 2011 5:10 pm
 

Yankees' Gardner working on bunting

Brett Gardner

By C. Trent Rosecrans

In today's Pepper, we talked about Brett Gardner maybe getting a shot at supplanting Derek Jeter as the Yankees leadoff man. It makes perfect sense, Gardner is crazy fast and gets on base at a good clip.

The one thing he may have to improve upon is bunting. In 995 plate appearances in the big leagues, he has just 10 bunt hits. You'd think with his speed, which is truly elite, he'd try to lay down more bunts. 

"The last few years, I just kinda got away from it, it's something I didn't really try to do, I guess it's something I didn't use as much as I should have," Gardner told CBSNewYork.com. "It's not something I've completely lost, it's something I'm going to continue to work at, something that will make more of a complete player and give me another weapon to use to get on base, get guys over and put the ball in the defense's hands and make them make mistakes."

Gardner had 18 bunt hits in 251 plate appearances at Double-A Trenton in 2009 in 2006, so it's not like he can't do it.

I'm not normally a big fan of the bunt as an offensive weapon, but for someone with superior speed such as Gardner, it can be a game-changer. At the very least, just the danger of him laying down a bunt could benefit the Yankees.

Gardner said he's been good at sacrifice bunts, but needs to work on bunting for hits.

"The thing for me is, I could sit out here all day and practice and do it right and do it right and do it right, but in game situation, your adrenaline is pumping and I'm always try to put the ball on the ground and run," Gardner said. "So it's a matter of staying in there a split-second longer and making sure I get the bunt down and a good bunt and then run as opposed to running out of the box and losing my angle and letting the bat head drop and fouling the ball off, which is a bad habit I've gotten in the last couple of years. I'm much better on a  regular sacrifice bunt because I take my time and I don't rush and I make sure I put the ball on the ground where I want to and for the most part I've been able to do that when I slow things down."

Gardner had seven bunt hits last season, so he is working on it. Still, he was successful on just 36.8 percent of his attempts for a base bunt hit, it's something with work he could improve upon.

The Angels' Erick Aybar and Julio Borbon of the Rangers led the big leagues last season with 18 bunt hits, while only seven more players had as many as 10 bunt hits. Texas' Elvis Andrus had 13, while Angel Pagan, Gregor Blanco, Juan Pierre and Nyjer Morgan each had 12 bunts hits and Michael Bourn had 10. In that group, Blanco had the best percentage at 57.1 percent, while Pierre was the lowest at 21.8 percent.


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Posted on: February 25, 2011 4:45 pm
Edited on: February 25, 2011 5:07 pm
 

Imagining an MLB Combine

Michael Bourn

While our Eye on Football brethren are in Indianapolis for the NFL Combine not getting to watch guys run and jump, it got me to thinking how much fun an MLB Combine might be.

Among the drills the NFL draft hopefuls do that would be applicable to baseball are the 40-yard dash, bench press, vertical leap and the Wonderlic Test. So who would be the best baseball players to participate? That's where the fun begins.

40-yard dash: Maybe for baseball, it'd be more fun to line the guys up and have them go 90 feet.

Favorite: Michael Bourn, Astros. A Sports Illustrated poll of players during spring training had Crawford picked as the fastest player in the majors, but the less-heralded Bourn finished second. Bourn has won two straight Gold Gloves in center, and much of it is because he can seemingly cover the entire outfield. In a division blessed with fast center fielders (Pittsburgh's Andrew McCutchen and Cincinnati's Drew Stubbs), Bourn covers more ground than anyone. Oh, and he's led the National League in stolen bases each of the last two seasons.

Others: Brett Gardner, Austin Jackson, Luis Durango, Juan Pierre, Jose Reyes, Andrew McCutchen, Chone Figgins, Ichiro Suzuki, Emilio Bonifacio, Carlos Gomez, Carl Crawford

Adam DunnBench press: At the combine, players bench press 225 pounds as many times as possible, testing not only strength, but endurance. For baseball, maybe the best test would be a home-run derby-like format, but adding the distances of balls hit.

Favorite: Adam Dunn, White Sox. According to HitTrackerOnline.com, Jose Bautista had more "no-doubt" home runs than Dunn (19 to 16), but Dunn's homers averaged nearly 10 feet more, with an average "true distance" of 411.1 feet. Mark Reynolds' 32 homers averaged 415.6 feet, so he's certainly in the discussion. Dunn's been consistently hitting long home runs, so he gets the nod.

Others: Josh Hamilton, Albert Pujols, Mark Reynolds, Wily Mo Pena, Mike Stanton, Travis Hafner, Russell Branyan, Jose Bautista

Dexter FowlerVertical leap: While it's not something that you associate with baseball, it's a good test of athleticism, but is also practical at the wall as players just to rob home runs.

Favorite: Dexter Fowler, Rockies. At 6-foot-5, Fowler was recruited as a basketball player in high school, but he showed his leaping ability in an unusual place in the 2009 NLDS. In the eighth inning of Game 4, Fowler was on first when Todd Helton hit a grounder to Chase Utley. Fowler was running toward Utley and hurdled him. Utley then threw errantly to Jimmy Rollins and Fowler was safe. (You can see the play here.)

Others: Carl Crawford, Torii Hunter, Shane Victorino, Mike Cameron, Hunter Pence

Craig BreslowWonderlic test: A 12-minute, 50-question test used for testing applicants for learning and problem-solving. Harvard's Pat McInally is the only confirmed 50 score at the combine, while another Harvard alum, Ryan Fitzpatrick, scored either a 48 or 49 in nine minutes. So, it makes sense to look to the Ivy League for our baseball picks.

Favorite: Craig Breslow, Athletics. Breslow graduated from Yale with a degree in molecular biophysics and biochemistry. Seriously. The Sporting News called him the smartest player in sports, while the Wall Street Journal suggested he may be the smartest man in the world. Not only that, batters hit just .194/.272/.348 against him last season, with lefties hitting .181/.245/.340 against him.

Others: Ross Ohlendorf, Chris Young, Fernando Perez, Mark DeRosa

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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Posted on: October 16, 2010 9:49 pm
Edited on: October 19, 2010 12:12 pm
 

Who could participate in an All-Star race?

Brett Gardner has a suggestion for the All-Star planning committee.

"I think they need to have a race at the All-Star Game, just line up 10 or 20 guys and see who wins," the Yankee told the New Jersey Star-Ledger prior to the Game 2 loss.

Gardner named teammate Greg Golson and Ranger outfielder Julio Borbon as part of the top candidates, but wouldn't say who No. 1 would be.

"There's only one way to find out," he said.

Well, the All-Star Game is over and there won't be another one for quite a while. But it's never too early to look ahead. Here's who could be part of the 2011 All-Star speed demon contest.

Brett Gardner : Gardner swiped 47 bags and came in second on Bill James' speed score with 8.1. The speed score averages stolen base percentage, frequency of attempts, percentage of triples and runs scored percentage.

Juan Pierre Carl Crawford : Crawford paced the bigs in speed score with 8.5, and tied Gardner with 47 steals.

Jacoby Ellsbury : Ellsbury stole 70 bases last season and could have repeated if not for being sidelined all season with injuries. He had a 8.1 speed score.

Austin Jackson : Jackson burst on the scene in 2010 with excellent defense and added 27 stolen bases.

Shane Victorino : The Flyin' Hawaiian has stolen 37, 36, 25 and 34 stolen baes the last four years, respectively. He's also near the top of leaderboards in all years in speed score.

Michael Bourn : Bourn paced baseball in speed score in 2009 with an 8.6 mark. He has led the NL the last two years in stolen bases.

Elvis Andrus : Andrus impressed with a speed score in 2009 of 8.0, tacking on 33 stolen bases. He finished with 32 in 2010, but did dip down to 5.8 in speed score.

Julio Borbon : We'll take Gardner's advice and place Borbon on the list. He stole 15 bases in 468 plate appearance with a speed score of 6.1. His speed score was 6.3 in 2009, and swiped 19 bags in 179 PA.

B.J. Upton : Upton has matched or topped 42 stolen bases each of the last three seasons and set a career-high in 2010 with a 7.5 speed score.

Juan Pierre (pictured): Pierre is 32, but can still bring it. He set a career high by leading baseball with 68 stolen bases in 2010, but his speed score did tumble to 6.9 after a 7.5 mark in 2009.

-- Evan Brunell

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Posted on: August 3, 2010 2:39 pm
Edited on: October 19, 2010 12:13 pm
 

Pierre homers for the first time since 2008


Juan Pierre The race is now on -- who will hit a homer next, Alex Rodriguez or Juan Pierre?

In the fifth inning of the first game of Tuesday's doubleheader in Detroit, the White Sox's Juan Pierre hit his 14th career home run. It was his first in 809 at-bats.

In that time, Alex Rodriguez has hit 47 home runs, but none since hitting No. 599 on July 22. Rodriguez hit his 552nd home run the night before Pierre's last home run, a solo shot of Pittsburgh's Marino Salas.

Pierre has twice hit three homers in a season, in 2004 and 2006.

Rodriguez has now gone 43 at-bats without a homer, the longest wait between 599 and 600 of any of the six previous players to reach the mark.

Rodriguez has averaged approximately a homer for every 14.5 at-bats, while Pierre has a homer in roughly every 424 at-bats, so the safe money's on Rodriguez -- but Pierre's the one swinging the hot bat.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter.

Posted on: June 25, 2010 5:34 pm
Edited on: June 25, 2010 6:26 pm
 

Zambrano blows up again

Carlos Zambrano The Cubs were able to unload Milton Bradley this offseason, but they may have a bigger, more expensive problem on their hands in Carlos Zambrano, and it's beyond his ineffectiveness on the mound.

Friday, Zambrano blew up once again after allowing four runs in the first inning. Zambrano got A.J. Pierzynski to ground out to first to end the inning, and after Derrek Lee tossed the ball to a covering Zambrano, Big Z stomped on the bag.

Zambrano, a known head-case, began a temper-tantrum when he got into the dugout. At some point Lou Piniella said something to Zambrano and then so did Lee. At that point, Zambrano started coming at Lee and yelling at him. Lee could be seen telling Zambrano his actions were "B.S." but he didn't use initials. After Zambrano threw down a water cooler, Lou Piniella got involved again and Zambrano went to the clubhouse. As Tom Gorzelanny warmed up in the bullpen, Zambrano came back into the dugout.

Whether the conflict was between the two players or just Lee sticking up for the other 23 men on the team was unclear. Juan Pierre did lead off the game with a grounder down the line by Lee, but it appeared to be a tough play as Lee was playing in to defend against the bunt. Zambrano was lifted after one inning, four hits and the four runs -- three off a home run by Carlos Quentin. Gorzelanny threw 3 1/3 innings, not allowing a hit until Gordon Beckham's solo homer in the fifth.

Lee was the first batter of the inning and struck out. After coming back to the dugout, he sat near Zambrano. In the several TV shots of the dugout, the two were not looking at each other.

Cubs announcer Bob Brenly unexplainably said it was "good to see some emotion" and that the Cubs have been a "dead-ass team."

The difference was who was showing emotion and what that emotion was. Zambrano has had several of these types of blow-ups in the past -- plunking White Sox players a year ago on the Southside, a fight in the dugout with Michael Barrett, a destroyed Gatorade machine and too many tantrums to count. Brenly's partner rightfully called him on it, as Len Casper noted emotion can be good, but with Zambrano it's a tired act.

It's no secret that opposing clubs like to get to Zambrano early because they all know he can be rattled and taken out of his game, leading to big innings and ineffectiveness. He's got a reputation in opposing clubhouses as a big, immature baby.

What's worse for the Cubs, who have already demoted Zambrano to the bullpen once this season, is that they're stuck with him. He signed a five-year, $91.5 million extension with the Cubs in August of 2007. Zambrano makes $17.875 million this season and next, $18 million in 2012 and there is a vesting player option for 2013, but he must finish first or second in the Cy Young vote in 2011 or in the top four in 2012 for that option to take effect.

The Cubs can't afford to release him and nobody will touch him on waivers, so they're stuck with him, cursing the team more than any goat.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

UPDATE: According to a Chicago Tribune tweet, Zambrano was filmed screaming obscenities at local cameramen on his way out of the ballpark. The Cubs are going to love seeing that on TV ad nauseum.

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Posted on: June 18, 2010 8:13 pm
Edited on: June 19, 2010 1:05 am
 

Strasburg sets obscure strikeout record


Stephen Strasburg So the latest installment in "they keep that record?" -- Stephen Strasburg has set the record for most starts in the first three starts of a career with 31, passing the previous record set by J.R. Richard. He picked up his eighth strikeout of the game (and 30th of his carer) in the fifth inning by getting Alexi Ramirez swinging. He finished the inning by striking out Gordon Beckham on a ball in the dirt. Eight of his nine strikeouts have been swinging strikeouts.

However, the Nationals are down 1-0 because Gavin Floyd has allowed just one hit through five innings.

Strasburg, on the other, has given up two hits, both in the first -- an infield single to Juan Pierre and a blooper by Omar Vizuel in the first. Since then, he's retired the next 15 batters.

As for those who note Strasburg's strikeout numbers have come against the likes of the Pirates and Indians, two last-place teams, the White Sox don't have a winning record, but did enter Friday's game with the fewest strikeouts in baseball.

UPDATE: Starsburg's done after seven innings, striking out 10, allowing one run on four hits with no walks. His ERA now stands at 1.86.

The Nationals scored a run on an Adam Dunn double in the seventh, so Strasburg will get a no-decision.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter.
Posted on: June 13, 2010 9:41 pm
Edited on: June 13, 2010 10:30 pm
 

Dueling no-nos not to be


When does a no-hitter turn into a no-hitter watch? Well, in Chicago, six may be enough. They're through six without a hit. Which team? Either.

Ridiculous. Both the White Sox and Cubs have struggled offensively, but this is ridiculous.

Gavin Floyd has walked two and struck out seven, while Ted Lilly has walked one, hit two and struck out three.

Top 7: Lilly is through the top of the 7th. Lilly has 97 pitches.

Bottom 7: Derrek Lee walks with one out. He's thrown out by A.J. Pierzynski after Lee tries to advance on a ball in the dirt. And then Soriano doubles for the first hit of the game -- for either freakin' team.

Top 8: Gordon Beckham is booed after trying to lay down a bunt with oen out. He misses it. And then he pops up. After Jayson Nix pops out Lilly is through 8.

Top 9: It's raining, but they're gonna try to get this in. Juan Pierre singles up the middle and that's it for the no-hitter and for Lilly. I'm sure it's Dusty Baker's fault.

And in the end, Carlos Marmol tries to find a way to lose it, but gets out of a bases loaded jam and Lilly wins.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter.









 
 
 
 
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