Tag:Matt Garza
Posted on: October 13, 2011 10:08 am
Edited on: October 13, 2011 10:14 am
 

Cubs' job attractive, future options plenty



By Matt Snyder


Congratulations, Theo Epstein, on likely landing the new gig of Cubs president, CEO, general manager, czar, savior, curse-breaker and deity. In addition to all those millions of dollars, you now inherit a mess of a franchise. The good news is that statement only exists in the present and very near future. Things can be cleaned up rather quickly. Here's why:

• It's funny to read all over the place about how the Cubs have so many awful contracts and are so much more handcuffed on payroll than Epstein is used to. The fact of the matter is that only Alfonso Soriano and Carlos Marmol are signed past 2012, along with the young players who will still be under team control and don't make much. And then Marmol's contract expires after 2013. Depending on arbitration raises and possible extensions (Matt Garza, maybe?) the Cubs are shedding somewhere in the ballpark of $50 million from their 2011 payroll. Come 2013, as things currently stand, only $28.8 million is committed (to Soriano and Marmol). In 2014, only Soriano's absurd $19 million salary is still on the books, but by 2015, there's nothing left.

• My guess is it's true, for now, that Epstein is likely going to be told to not exceed a figure like $135 million with his payroll and that is a good amount less than the Red Sox's current figure. But here's the mitigating factor: The Cubs are in the NL Central, where they easily have the largest market and revenue stream in the division. In Boston, Epstein was trying to keep up financially with the mighty Yankees. In the Chicago, his biggest competitor in terms of market size is Houston -- which is departing for the AL soon -- and in terms of revenue stream it's St. Louis. The Cubs have the resources to be the "big boy" in the division, which wasn't possible for Epstein in Boston.

• Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts has already shown a significant commitment to player development. The Cubs spent a huge amount of money on the 2011 draft and they are building a state of the art academy in the Dominican Republic. They are looking to make major upgrades to Arizona's spring training facility, which would serve as a type of home base for player development. The Cubs also have a great reputation for international scouting. Put simply, Ricketts has noticed the biggest problem for the Cubs has been a system that doesn't regularly churn out its own prospects and he has done everything he can to rectify that issue in the short term.

So, that's why the job was attractive, but there's no doubt there's a lot to be done. This is a team that went 71-91 and has a pretty lackluster level of talent in the upper levels of the minors -- not to mention the aging major-league roster.

As every franchise faces when trying to make a losing team into a winning team, there are three distinct routes that can be taken. Let's take a look at each and get specific.

Cubs/Red Sox drama
Route 1: The Complete Rebuild
Don't pick up the options for Ryan Dempster or Aramis Ramirez. Trade younger veterans of value like Geovany Soto, Sean Marshall and Matt Garza. Do whatever it takes to off-load Alfonso Soriano's contract. Do the same with Carlos Zambrano. Carlos Marmol and Marlon Byrd might land decent returns, so they would also be traded. Don't re-up with any veterans like Kerry Wood. Just completely revamp the entire farm system and build around Starlin Castro and Andrew Cashner. Then tell everyone they need to be patient, as the goal is to grow the system from the foundation and start competing in 2014.

Chances this happens:
Decent to good, for at least part of this. Epstein very well may start completely slow and see how things pan out with several different young players. I do think he would keep Garza with Castro and Cashner and then start to pounce on free agents starting next offseason.

Route 2: The Chips to the Center of the Table
Re-up with Dempster and Ramirez. Do what it takes to sign Prince Fielder and C.J. Wilson, including backloading deals to make the budget work. Move Starlin Castro to second base and sign Jose Reyes (again, backloading). Grab someone like Javier Vazquez, Chris Young or Joel Pineiro to fill out the rotation. That means the starting nine would be: Soto, Fielder, Castro, Reyes, Ramirez, Soriano, Byrd and probably Bryan LaHair. The starting rotation could be: Wilson, Garza, Dempster, Vazquez and Randy Wells. That leaves Andrew Cashner -- who is hitting triple digits on the radar gun in the Arizona Fall League -- to be the closer. Marmol can stay in the bullpen and hope to work on his control. Wood, Marshall and Jeff Samardzija would be the setup men.

Chances this happens:
Ridiculously slim. Actually, zero. Epstein isn't a moron and this would be absurd for the long-term health of the franchise, especially considering the team probably still wouldn't be good enough to win even an NLDS, if it made it. There's no depth, either, since the high levels of the minors don't have a lot of help coming. And could Epstein even get all those guys if he tried? Finally, the band-aid-on-a-broken-leg approach got Jim Hendry fired, so there's no way Tom Ricketts would hire Epstein to do the same thing.

Route 3: The Combination
I often chuckle when people think you absolutely have to choose either Route 1 or Route 2. In a small market, yes, you have to completely rebuild and hope all the young players get good at the same time, like the Royals appear to have happening in 2013 or 2014. In a large market, the resources are there to do both. Epstein developed the likes of Jacoby Ellsbury, Jon Lester, Jonathan Papelbon and Dustin Pedroia while also making trades for veterans and signing big-name free agents in Boston. It's a much bigger project this time around, but the goal can be to do something similar in Wrigley. While the farm system is being revamped for the Cubs, an effort can be made to start allowing the aging veterans to leave via free agency while players like Soto, Marshall, Marmol, and Dempster (with him, it's a one-year option and there will be enough money to retain him) can be kept around. Wood can be re-signed for another one-year, $1.5 million contract. And then you can fill holes with younger free agents. C.J. Wilson? Pass on him and keep your eyes on that 2013 pitching free agent class that could contain Matt Cain, John Danks, Zack Greinke, Cole Hamels, Shaun Marcum, Brandon McCarthy, Anibal Sanchez, James Shields and more. A 27-year-old Prince Fielder? Yes, please. The Reyes signing mentioned above, with moving Castro to second? Nope. Not now. Try Andrew Cashner and Jeff Samardzija in the rotation? Yes and maybe. Give LaHair a shot in right field, absolutely. He had a huge 2011 season in both Triple-A and then hit the ball well in his short time in the majors. Do you think about promoting center-field prospect Brett Jackson and trading Byrd midseason? Sure, if the Cubs aren't in the race. The whole point is that, ideally, with this plan, you'd put a team together for 2012 that appears to be average, giving it the chance to overachieve and sneak into the playoffs -- but the eyes are certainly on 2013 being the turnaround year. From there, you strive to compete for the World Series title every ensuing season.

Chances this happens:
I feel like this is the most likely route. The main benefit is you don't completely punt 2012 after getting the fan base excited with the big-name hire. In the complete rebuild model, you're liable to lose 100 games and kill fan morale instead of capitalizing on all the excitement. And in the win now model, there just isn't enough there to bring it all together in one offseason. So here we are. Here, you can have a mildly successful 2012 season while getting the fans excited for a bright future. All the moves above are just examples of what can be done, as the plan can be the same but be done with totally different moves.

But this is all purely speculation -- and fun, as is all hypothetical talk -- as the only person who really knows what is going in on Epstein's head right now is Epstein himself.

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

Posted on: September 27, 2011 6:50 pm
 

R.I.P.: 2011 Chicago Cubs

By Matt Snyder

Another season gone, another disappointment for 29 teams as one is immortalized forever. Let’s take a look back at 2011 and forward in Eye on Baseball’s R.I.P. series...

Team name: Chicago Cubs
Record: 70-90, 24 games back in NL Central
Manager: Mike Quade
Best hitter: Aramis Ramirez -- .306/.360/.506, 25 HR, 92 RBI, 79 R, 35 2B
Best pitcher: Matt Garza -- 9-10, 3.35 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 189 K, 191 IP

After the 2008 season, the Cubs were in the middle of a bit of a golden era in the franchise. They had been division champions three times in a six-year span. That isn't saying much for a lot of teams, but this franchise hadn't had that kind of success since playing in the World Series four out of five seasons from 1906-1910. Alas, they were swept in the NLDS in 2008, despite having the best regular-season record in the National League, so general manager Jim Hendry decided to do some tinkering. The Cubs finished just five games over .500 in 2009 before coming in fifth place in 2010 and are currently in fifth again. And Hendry's out of a job, likely to be followed by Quade and some other coaches.

2011 SEASON RECAP

They were 9-8 and tied for first place after the first game of a doubleheader on April 20, but that was the high point in the standings. The Cubs would go on to lose six of seven games and never be a serious threat the rest of the way. They fell to 10 games back on June 4 and never got closer than nine back in the Central from that point forward. They actually moved up to fourth place September 19 for the first time since May 26, but the overwhelming majority of the season has been spent in fifth place, thanks to the lowly Astros. The biggest positives: Starlin Castro is well on his way to being a major-league star, Darwin Barney appears an adequate option at second base, Matt Garza had a good season, Sean Marshall is still great in middle-to-late inning relief and Jeff Samardzija finally doesn't look like a huge bust. The biggest negative is that this appears to be a badly flawed roster with not near enough help on the way from the minors.

2012 AUDIT

This is the toughest assignment of the R.I.P. series, because there's no way to know the direction of the ballclub until a new general manager is hired. The club is not immediately set up to compete, but there's a stipulation: With more than $50 million in payroll falling off before 2012 and even more off the books before '13, the Cubs could decide to be a major player in free agency. The franchise has enough money to grab, for example, Prince Fielder, C.J. Wilson and still have money left over to bolster the bullpen and find a fill-in at third base. On the other hand, many would argue that still isn't enough to make the Cubs immediate contenders in the National League. If the new GM agrees, he might be more in favor of leaving the payroll low for a season or two while building the system with a youthful foundation before pouncing on big-name free agents to fill holes in 2013 or 2014. One thing that should scare fellow franchises in the NL Central if the Cubs choose to spend big in the near future, is that the Cubs are clear of all big contracts except Alfonso Soriano and Carlos Marmol (and Matt Garza likely has a deal by then, too, I'd guess) prior to 2013 and Marmol's off after '13. They have the resources to be the Red Sox of the NL. It's just a matter of if the Cubs can put the correct plan in place, and that all comes down to who chairman Tom Ricketts hires as his next GM.

FREE AGENTS

Aramis Ramirez, 3B (mutual option)
Carlos Pena, 1B
Reed Johnson, OF
Ryan Dempster, SP (player option for '12)
John Grabow, RP
Jeff Samardzija, RP (club option for '12 and '13)

OFFSEASON FOCUS

Where to even begin? This roster is a mess. First of all, I'd listen to offers for everyone except Starlin Castro. That doesn't mean you have to trade guys like Barney, Marshall or Soto, but you never know if the return might work with the game plan of the new GM. Let's sort through some of this and see what can be done short-term with the eyes on the future. My goal would be to contend in 2013. If it happens in 2012, that's just gravy.
  • Get Prince Fielder. He's 27 and incredibly durable (has never played less than 157 games in a full season). He'd then be the anchor for the Cubs for the foreseeable future, even if it takes a few years to build around him and Castro. Also of importance, if you bat Castro second and Fielder third, Castro's strike zone woes become less an issue (though he has walked more times than he's struck out in September, so it's getting better already).
  • Give Andrew Cashner one last shot to stay healthy in the rotation and also see if Samardzija can be successful as a starter. Having a rotation of Garza, Dempster, Randy Wells, Cashner and Samardzija won't be winning any championships, but Dempster is gone after 2012 and there'd be plenty of money to go after free agents. By then, they Cubs will know if they need just one guy or up to four with Garza. And the list of free agent starters after next season could have some big names -- assuming they aren't granted contract extensions -- like Matt Cain, Zack Greinke, Cole Hamels, Shaun Marcum and James Shields.
  • Read the riot act to Carlos Marmol. Considering the Cubs likely can't contend in 2012 and Marmol is signed through 2013, he has one year to fix himself. Marmol has blown an MLB-high 10 saves (he's tied with Jordan Walden). You can't count on closers to be perfect, but let's say Marmol only blew four saves, which is a very reasonable percentage. The Cubs would be 76-84, which isn't awful at all considering some of the injury issues and poor roster construction.
  • Give Bryan LaHair a shot in right field. LaHair is 28, so he's hardly a prospect, but it's possible he's a late bloomer like Ryan Ludwick or Jayson Werth. LaHair had 38 home runs, 109 RBI and a 1.070 OPS in 129 Triple-A games. He's hitting .309/.391/.545 in 19 games for the Cubs this season. Again, the eyes are on 2013 here, so if he flames out as many expect, you can address the position next offseason. But he's at least earned the chance to get an extended look in the bigs.
  • If the Cubs do fall out of contention in 2012, Marlon Byrd needs to be traded at the deadline and prospect Brett Jackson can then take over in center field. If Jackson is deemed ready earlier in the season and LaHair doesn't pan out, Byrd could be moved to right. 
  • I'd personally bring back Aramis Ramirez for two or three years, assuming the Cubs don't have to break the bank. The last thing they need is another albatross contract, so if he's demanding something like four years and $50 million, it's time to move on. But if it's reasonable, it makes sense to keep him. He's only 33 and has shown has can still swing the bat. He's got to have two to three years left of above-average production at third base. Prospect Josh Vitters had completely fallen off all prospect rankings prior to this season, but rebounded with a decent showing in Double-A this season (.283/.322/.448 with 14 homers, 81 RBI and 28 doubles) and he's still only 21. In two years, the Cubs will have an idea if he is going to be the next third baseman or not. If not, they can look outside the organziation or perhaps someone in the farm system will have emerged. Keeping Ramirez is a natural bridge to when it comes to that.
And there's a lot more, too, but those are the big ones.

The main thing here is the hire a new GM that puts the main focus on building the minor-league system. That way in a few years free agency won't be the only avenue to fill out a winning ballclub. Remember, people complain about the Yankees, Red Sox and Phillies in free agency, but lots of players -- Robinson Cano, Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury, Kevin Youkilis, Jon Lester, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Cole Hamels and several others were developed from within the respective systems. The Cubs have been terrible at developing their own in recent years and leaned on trades and free agency to bail them out. It needs to be a combination or everything will eventually fall apart like it did this season. From there, they can start to think about breaking a faux-curse and easing the pain of the legions of true fans.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 22, 2011 9:10 pm
Edited on: September 27, 2011 1:46 pm
 

Who are the NL's worst defenders?

Wright

By Evan Brunell

Over the past week, Eye on Baseball has taken a look at the AL Gold Glove award winners, along with the deserving NL candidates. In addition, the AL's worst defenders were scoured, and now comes the senior circuit's recipients of tin gloves...

Catcher: John Buck, Marlins -- One of the most important things a catcher can do is to throw out baserunners. To be sure, it's a total package -- calling pitches, acting as the general on the field, blocking pitches, framing pitches... but that pesky baserunner problem is also an issue, and Buck scores very low here. Out of 95 would-be basestealers, Buck only caught 17 of them, or 17.9 percent. Of all catchers who qualify for the batting title in the game -- not just the NL -- Buck's posted the worst caught-stealing rate. His reputation in all other aspects of catching are muted at best.

First base: Prince Fielder, Brewers -- Fielder looks as if he should easily clear $150 million in a new contract this offseason and $200 million is not out of reach given the right motivated bidder. Whoever is acquiring him, though, will be doing so for his home-run bat as opposed his defense, which has been consistently awful. This is a player who would have been shoved into the DH spot in the AL had he come up with an American League team, but the Brewers have had to live with his glove at first. Fielder offers nothing at first beyond a human blob that can block the occasional grounder.

Second base: Dan Uggla, Braves -- Uggla battled Jeff Keppinger for this honor, but Uggla takes the cake here by leading all NL second basemen in errors with 15, flashing both awful range and stone hands. It's surprising the Marlins didn't move him to third a while ago, and the Braves will certainly try to shift Uggla to third base once Chipper Jones retires. Until then, Atlanta's going to have to hope that Freddie Freeman at first and their shortstop can cover enough ground for Uggla to make his mark with the bat.

Third base: David Wright, Mets -- If David Wright's .929 fielding percentage holds, it will be the lowest mark by a third baseman since  2007, excluding Mark Reynolds who has "bested" Wright's fielding percentage twice in 2011 and 2008. In 2007, Ryan Braun tallied a .895 fielding percentage and was moved to left, which was always inevitable. Before that, you have to go to Edwin Encarnacion in 2006. Errors aren't always an indication of how good a fielder is, but in Wright's case, he's making them in such copious amounts without the benefit of superlative range.

Shortstop: Yuniesky Betancourt, Brewers -- Was there any doubt? The Brewers knew that they would have a horrendous left side of the infield, but the club could only hope that Betancourt and third baseman Casey McGehee's offensive production outstripped what they lost on defense. That hasn't been the case, and Betancourt remains the worst shortstop by a mile in the game. Really, there's no excuse for his still being considered a shortstop.

Left field: Raul Ibanez, Phillies -- There isn't much that left fielders are asked to do. Stand out there with a glove, catch the balls coming your way and smash lots of home runs. Well, Ibanez hasn't quite delivered on these fronts, especially defensively where he combines a noodle of an arm with a lack of speed or quickness, making him a statue. He's fortunate he doesn't play for the Cubs, otherwise the ivy on the outfield walls would already have overtaken him.

Canter field: Angel Pagan, Mets -- Pagan came out of nowhere to be a solid contributor to the Mets the last two seasons, but things have fallen apart this year. He leads all NL center fielders in erorrs and while he has good reaction time, his hands just aren't soft enough and his arm is a wash, too. Pagan may well have lost any shot at starting again after the year he's had.

Right field: Lance Berkman, Cardinals -- As I keep bringing up, a right fielder's arm is more valuable than a left fielder or center fielder. Thus, a player's defense in right should be judged with a bit more notice as to the player's arm. Well, one of the worst arms in the league belongs to Berkman, playing right consistently for the first time in his career. The verdict? The Cardinal has a lousy arm and lousy range. Maybe Berkman should stick to first base.

Pitcher: Matt Garza, Cubs -- A pitcher's job on defense basically comes down to this: field the grounders back to you and act as an irrelevant fly-ball pointer-outer. So when you make seven errors in just 191 innings for a fielding percentage of .774, you aren't doing too well. That's Garza, who has made five throwing errors while muffing two grounders. Garza's only made 10 putouts and 14 assists, so 22.5 percent of his involvement in fielding plays have resulted in an error. That's not good.

You'll notice no NL West players landed on the list. That's not surprising. With San Diego and Los Angeles playing in pitcher's parks and San Francisco's stadium rather spacious as well, defense is at a premium. Colorado also needs to emphasize defense as well to take away hits and patrol Coors Fields' cavernous gaps.

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Posted on: September 22, 2011 2:14 am
Edited on: September 22, 2011 2:22 am
 

3 Up, 3 Down: Garza, Arroyo dazzle in CGs

Garza

By Evan Brunell

Matt Garza, Cubs: Garza spun a bona-fide gem on Wednesday, taking out the high-octane Brewers staff with a complete-game victory, striking out 10 and allowing just six hits and one walk. He missed a shutout by one run, which crossed the plate in the third inning unearned. The Cubs' season hasn't quite gone as planned, but Garza has stepped up as an ace this season with a 3.35 ERA. Manager Mike Quade asked Garza to strike out in his last plate appearance and avoid a double play so Starlin Castro could get one more chance to get hit No. 200 at home, but Garza instead grounded to the pitcher. "I'm trying to hit, too, guys," Garza told the Associated Press. "I want 20 wins. I want 200 innings. I want 200-plus strikeouts. I was in my mode, so I'm going to go out there and compete. I'm not going to just give up."

Bronson Arroyo, Reds: Arroyo entered the game having given up 44 home runs, just four away from the NL record and six from baseball's record. However, those records appear safe after Arroyo shut out the Astros in a six-hitter. It pushes him to nine innings shy of 200 innings on the year, a distinction that Arroyo prides himself on reaching. "Durability is the mark of a starting pitcher," Arroyo, who has reached 200 innings six straight years, told the Associated Press. He'll go for another complete game against the Mets on Tuesday.

David Freese, Cardinals: Freese jacked a three-run home run in the seventh inning to pace the Cardinals to a hard-fought 6-5 victory over the Mets. Freese's 2-for-4 night wasn't extraordinary, but on top of that three-run blast, he chipped in with a two-run triple in the first to account for five of the Cards' six runs. Freese has battled injury the last few years but has shown he can hit when right, bumping his season line to .293/.339/.437.



Josh Beckett, Red Sox: With Red Sox Nation whipped into a frenzy over what could be an epic collapse by Boston, Josh Beckett delivered a vintage effort... until the seventh. In both the seventh and eighth, Beckett game up a combined four runs to finish the game with a line of six runs earned in 7 1/3 innings. He did limit the O's to seven hits and one walk, punching out eight, but a two-homer game by Mark Reynolds -- including a game-tying blast in the seventh -- derailed Beckett's outing.

Ross Ohlendorf, Pirates: The Pirates' Ohlendorf was coming off his first win in a year, his 2011 season marred by injuries. He couldn't keep the good times rolling against the Pirates, getting lit up for seven earned runs in just two innings. Ohlendorf, who has been a solid pitcher for the Pirates the last two seasons, saw his ERA spike to 8.29 and he appears in danger of being non-tendered this offseason, which would make him a free agent.

Alex Liddi, Mariners:  The first Italian-born and raised player in the majors couldn't handle the heat Tuesday, notching the golden sombrero as he whiffed in four trips to the plate. Liddi has shown power early on, ripping a home run in each of the last two games, but had nothing against Kevin Slowey and Co. on Wednesday. Liddi could feasibly be the M's third baseman next year as the team isn't expected to turn back to Chone Figgins, but will have to hold off Kyle Seager and hope Seattle doesn't make any offseason moves.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: August 14, 2011 5:19 pm
 

Dan Uggla's hitting streak snapped at 33

UgglaBy Evan Brunell

Dan Uggla's 33-game hitting streak has come to an end, leaving him tied for the 18th longest hitting streak in history and the fourth-longest since 1987. The right-hander also holds the fourth best hitting streak right-handed hitter since Joe DiMaggio's historic 56-game hitting streak, behind Dom DiMaggio (34 games), Paul Molitor (39) and Benito Santiago (34).

Unfortunately for the Brave, he could not solve Matt Garza or Jeff Samardzija of the Cubs, although he did contribute a sacrifice fly in the first inning in a 6-5 losing effort. Uggla was left in the hole with Brain McCann on deck when Martin Prado registered the final out of the game. The 31-year-old also fouled to first base, popped to second and grounded to shortstop.

Prior to the hitting streak, Uggla was rivaling Adam Dunn as the biggest bust of the season for a new team. Uggla, who was acquired from the Marlins in an offseason trade, entered July 5 with a dispiriting .173/.241/.327 line in 348 plate appearances, displaying none of the skills that had made him one of the game's best second basemen since being plucked by Florida in the 2006 Rule 5 draft.

The hitting streak, however, saw Uggla hit at a .377/.438/.762 clip, including eight hits in his last three games, to push his season line to .232/.300/.453. While the batting average is still a ways away from his high-water mark of .287 set in 2010 or his career .259 figure, Uggla's power has vaulted him to 27 home runs and appears a virtual lock to register his fifth straight season of at least 30 blasts.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: August 14, 2011 12:41 pm
Edited on: August 14, 2011 12:42 pm
 

On Deck: Wakefield goes for 200, Uggla for 34

On Deck


By Evan Brunell


Follow all games live with CBSSports.com's GameTracker.

AngelsJaysBEST MATCHUP: Dan Haren and Brett Cecil go head-to-head as the Angels attempt to stay close to first place, slipping to three games behind after Saturday's loss. Toronto, meanwhile, is one game over .500 and would like to stay that way. It will be difficult against Haren, who has a 2.91 ERA on the season. Toronto isn't exactly a patient bunch and Haren has pinpoint control, so it might be a long day for Toronto. Angels hitters may have a long day in store, too. Left-hander Brett Cecil's 4.31 ERA on the season doesn't draw much attention, but he's been far better since returning from the minor leagues on June 30 and has been pitching well his last four starts, throwing 29 innings of a 2.17 ERA. Angels vs. Blue Jays, 1:07 p.m. ET

UgglaCHASE FOR 34: At this point in Dan Uggla's hitting streak, every game is appointment-viewing. If the Brave can extend his streak to 34 games, he will be tied for the 14th longest hitting streak in baseball history. Chase Utley, Placido Polanco, Luis Castillo and Jimmy Rollins (all four, coincidentally, were teammates for Philadelphia in spring training) are the only players with longer hitting streaks since the turn of the century, and Rollins tops the list at 36. Matt Garza will try to blank Uggla the first few times around the order while Atlanta counters with Brandon Beachy. Cubs vs. Braves, 1:35 p.m. ET

WakefieldGOING FOR 200: The third time wasn't the charm for Tim Wakefield. Will the fourth be? It's the knuckleballer's fourth straight attempt at reaching 200 career wins. Seattle, with its moribund offense, is a pretty good target. Unfortunately, the Sox's own offense has been compromised by Kevin Youkilis, who has missed three of the last five games, including the first two of the Seattle series. Youk was mired in a slump prior to the injury too, so his absence as a force has been felt for some time. The Mariners counter with rookie Charlie Furbush on the mound. The lefty was acquired from Detroit in a deadline trade and is attempting to covert from relief to the rotation, which has been a bumpy road thus far. Red Sox vs. Mariners, 4:10 p.m. ET

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

Posted on: July 19, 2011 4:59 pm
Edited on: July 20, 2011 5:35 pm
 

On Deck: Rangers go for 12; Jimenez on hill

On Deck

By Evan Brunell


TEXAngelsGONE STREAKING: The Rangers have won 11 in the row while the Angels are scrambling to stay in the hunt. Four games back, Los Angeles needs to cool Texas off or risk falling out of contention by the time the trading deadline hits. The Angels will offer up rookie Tyler Chatwood who has walked as many as he's struck out. Somehow, he's got a 3.52 ERA, but there you go. He's opposing sensation Alexi Ogando, who has shown no sign slowing down with a 2.92 ERA, but how long can Ogando go before running out of gas? Rangers vs. Angels, 10:05 p.m. ET (Watch live)

GarzaLeeDUELING ACES: The best pitching matchup on Tuesday night involves a pair of aces. Cliff Lee of Philadelphia goes up against Matt Garza of the Cubs. While Garza is technically an ace, it's not to the level of Lee, who also has Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels and (when healthy) Roy Halladay alongside him. Garza has been an ace despite a 3.97 ERA suggesting the contrary. His 2.96 xFIP on the strength of his ability to strike out batters and limit baserunners. Lee's still better than that, though, pairing a 2.76 xFIP with a 2.82 ERA and striking out a career-high 25.1 percent of batters. Philles vs. Cubs, 8:05 p.m. ET (Watch live)

JimenezWATCH THE RADAR GUNS: Ubaldo Jimenez is easily the biggest name on the trade market, but it's still unclear if there's any feasible chance of prying Jimenez away from Colorado, at least this season. Jimenez will be on the mound Tuesday night as teams try to determine just how much they'd give up for the right-hander if a deal could come together. He's opposing the Braves, so it's a stiff matchup and will be opposed by Brandon Beachy, who was not selected in the amateur draft back in 2008, and has a 3.21 ERA in 12 starts as a 24-year-old. Braves vs. Rockies, 8:40 p.m. ET (Watch live)

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

Posted on: July 15, 2011 9:52 am
Edited on: July 15, 2011 2:47 pm
 

Pepper: About those wins, losses



By Matt Snyder


One of the things I find most lame in the world of baseball writing is how there's a huge fight between those who love sabermetrics and those who oppose it as if it's the worst thing in the history of mankind. Accusations are hurled in each direction, whether it's a "mother's basement" insult or an insinuation that the other party is a moron. I try to not get involved, as I believe there's merit to different things on both sides, but one area where I feel strongly is that using wins and losses to judge pitchers is stupid.

Example number infinity happened last night during the Cubs-Marlins game. Matt Garza threw seven shutout innings, but Carlos Marmol was deplorable in the ninth (zero IP, five earned runs). The Cubs lost. So Garza didn't get the win.

I just have a question for the people who like to puff their chests out and use the "mother's basement" term on people who don't like using wins and losses: Where does Bob Brenly live? The Cubs' color man, who was an All-Star catcher and has a World Series ring from a managerial stint, said, "win-loss record is not a good way to judge a pitcher" once Marmol blew the game.

FIGHTING DEPRESSION: Mets reliever Taylor Buchholz is suffering from what seems like a very serious case of depression. He's likely to miss the entire season and things do not sound good (Springfield Patch).

EXPENSIVE MIDDLE RELIEVER: The Yankees spent a pretty penny ($35 million over three years) this offseason to bring Rafael Soriano in as their eighth-inning man. What they've gotten in return is a 5.40 ERA, an attitude the New York media has questioned and a long stint on the DL. In the meantime, David Robertson has excelled, even making the All-Star team. Soriano is close to coming back now, but what will his role be? We don't know, because Yankees' skipper Joe Girardi wouldn't say. It does feel unlikely the Yankees immediately promote him past Robertson, though. (NJ.com)

DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM? Cubs manager Mike Quade had to fly commercially after the All-Star Game and he must have looked suspicious. He was retained for 40 minutes by TSA and given a full-fledged pat-down. Quade said he didn't tell the officials who he was, but hoped they would ask. (Chicago Tribune)

WORKING IT: Royals first round pick Bubba Starling is committed to playing football for Nebraska and the negotiations with the Royals are ongoing. Reportedly, Starling is likely to sign with the Royals eventually, but he's really working his bluff, as he's attending voluntary workouts with Nebraska. For what it's worth, the Royals don't seem bothered by it. (Fox Sports KC)

15 MINUTES: Apparently all you have to do to get a short run at quasi-fame these days is be an idiot. (Arizona Republic)

NO MO WILY MO? One of the more entertaining players in the majors has to be Wily Mo Pena. He's hit five home runs in just 46 at-bats, but he also has 19 strikeouts with nary a walk. But he's about to be designated for assignment by the Diamondbacks, who will activate Geoff Blum from the DL. Brandon Allen will also be added to the roster while Juan Miranda is demoted to Triple-A. What about prospect Paul Goldschmidt? Nick Piecoro examines the issue (Arizona Republic).

THE PRICE IS RIGHT: Rays pitcher David Price was initially upset about giving up Derek Jeter's 3,000th hit -- which was also a home run, as we all know. Evidently, Price is over it, as he's now agreed to a deal to autograph items, such as baseballs, "I gave up DJ's 3K." (Tampabay.com)

BACK ON HIS FEET: Just a few weeks from walking away from the Nationals' managing gig, Jim Riggleman now has a job with the Giants as a special assignment scout. (Extra Baggs)

THERE SHE BLOWS: A minor-league game was postponed when heavy winds blew the outfield wall down at Lake Olmstead Stadium, home of the Augusta GreenJackets. It was reportedly a 50-foot section of an 18-foot high wall. (Augusta Chronicle)

MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING: There were tons of scouts in the building to watch Rockies starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez Thursday. Upwards of 17 teams, that is (Fox Sports). And he's not going anywhere. The Rockies will have to be absolutely bowled over to cough him up, especially since he's relatively cheap for the next few years.

MORNEAU, ROBERTS PROGRESSING: Twins first baseman Justin Morneau has been cleared to resume baseball activities (MLB.com). Meanwhile, Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts has been allowed to increase his workload as he attempts to return from a concussion (MLB.com).

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