Tag:Miguel Montero
Posted on: August 12, 2011 3:12 pm
Edited on: August 12, 2011 5:11 pm
 

Beat Down: Nick Piecoro on the Diamondbacks



By C. Trent Rosecrans

If newspapers still existed and you opened one up this morning, you'd open up the sports section and see that the Arizona Diamondbacks were in first place in the National League West. It's one of those things that nobody really expected to see on Aug. 12, but there it is. I sure didn't expect it, and wasn't sure I knew exactly how it happened. So, I figured I could research the whole thing and write something about it, or I could go to someone who has been there the entire season, so I e-mailed my buddy Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic.

Piecoro is in his fifth season covering the Diamondbacks. I first met him in the press box at Chase Field in 2007 when he was surfing my iTunes library from his computer and sought me out to talk music. Since then, we've had numerous pizzas and beers together, talking baseball and, more often, music. So when I thought about the Diamondbacks, I quickly thought of Nick. And then I thought this might be a good weekly feature looking at some of the teams around MLB from the people who see them the most and know them the best. So, for the first installment of the Beat Down, here's Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic:

Eye On Baseball:  So, really, first-place Diamondbacks? Really? Give me the short version of how this happened...

Nick Piecoro: I know, right? Well, there are a bunch of reasons. I’ll start with the emergence of Justin Upton, who has turned into a force in the middle of the lineup, a threat to do damage every time he’s up. They lead the league in home runs, so there’s a real element of a quick-strike offense. And if you look at their Baseball-Reference page, pretty much everyone in the lineup is at least close to a 100 OPS+, meaning there are no black holes in the lineup.

Then there’s the pitching staff. Ian Kennedy has pitched like a No. 1, and Daniel Hudson, Joe Saunders and Josh Collmenter (he of tomahawk-throwing fame) have slotted in well behind him. In the bullpen, they no longer cough up leads every night, and that’s thanks mainly to Kevin Towers acquisitions David Hernandez and J.J. Putz.

EOB: Did you see this coming? I sure didn't. I will say, our senior writers -- Scott Miller and Danny Knobler -- did say the D-Backs would be interesting this year, but I don't think any of us expected this.

NP: No way, not me. In spring training, they were a disaster. Part of the reason they’ve been able to turn it around is because they were quick to act to make changes with guys who weren’t getting the job done, and the list is long: Armando Galarraga, Barry Enright, Russell Branyan, Melvin Mora, Aaron Heilman, Juan Miranda, Zach Duke. Some got more rope than others, but the point is, anyone making predictions before the season was looking at a completely different roster than what they have now. Heck, Ryan Roberts, who has 15 home runs, wouldn’t have made the team in spring training if not for Geoff Blum’s injury.

EOB: How much of this is Kirk Gibson? Is the attitude he brought real? Has it actually changed things?

NP: You have to give him credit, certainly. You hear people talk about a manager’s personality rubbing off on his team, it’s hard not to see some of that with this group of guys, particularly when it comes to their penchant for comebacks and the whole never-say-die stuff. They’re a hard-nosed bunch and that’s exactly the kind of player Gibson was and manager he is. Personally, I’ve always been skeptical of a manager’s impact; I mean, all the stuff above explains their status as contenders well enough in my mind. (That and the fact the NL West and the NL as a whole is mostly devoid of good teams.) A friend likes to say that players win games, managers lose them and umpires ruin them. Well, if that’s the case, Gibson is doing an excellent job of not losing them.

EOB: Is Justin Upton your MVP?

NP:  Maybe not yet. But he could be.

EOB: I'm guessing he's not on the trade market this winter...

NP: Uh, no. I’m not sure I understand why he was out there last winter.

EOB: Are they set up for the long haul?

NP:  You would think so, yeah. They have literally no bad contracts -- not a one -- and they have a bunch of guys coming in the system, namely a few potential frontline-type starting pitchers in Jarrod Parker, Tyler Skaggs and Trevor Bauer. They’ll have a few decisions to make in the next couple offseasons with core guys like Kelly Johnson, Stephen Drew and Miguel Montero set to become free agents, but they’re in great position to retain who they want to retain and even should have money to spend to plug whatever holes might exist.

EOB: Finally, you're perhaps the hippest beat writer in the loop, what are you listening to right now?

NP: Heh. Is that like saying someone’s the MVP of the Pacific Coast League? I’ve been fairly obsessed with the new Handsome Furs album (link to "Serve the People" with a note that the album art has a nekkid lady). And -- how’s this for timing? -- I’m actually going tonight to see Cut Copy, an awesome band from Australia that have this catchy 80s-dance-pop thing going on (link here to "Far Away"). I’ve also been really into the new ones from Cults, Destroyer, Foster the People and others I can’t think of right now.

Thanks to Nick and you can check out his blog here and on Twitter @NickPiecoro.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: July 7, 2011 4:24 pm
Edited on: July 11, 2011 1:06 pm
 

Introducing your 2011 NL West All-Star team

By Evan Brunell

2011 All-Star Game
SEE THE OTHER DIVISION ALL-STARS: AL East | AL Central | AL West | NL East | NL Central
For a number of years, the NL West has been fairly balanced. Every team except the Rockies has a division title in the past five years, and the Rockies advanced to the World Series as a wild-card team back in 2007. That balance is clearly seen in the representatives of the NL West All-Star team, which you can see below.

MonteroC Miguel Montero, Diamondbacks: Poor Buster Posey. He had this on lockdown until... well, no need to rehash it, but he's out for the year. Montero's a great consolation prize. He has ripped 10 home runs and has a .275/.346/.468 mark. Montero was actually in a close race with Chris Iannetta of Colorado for this gig, but Montero outstrips Iannetta in caught stealing, nabbing 12 of 37 baserunners.

Helton1B Todd Helton, Rockies: It's quite the renaissance year for the aging first baseman who was once known for his ability to hit for average and power while drawing walks. Now, it's just average and home-run power, but it's plenty enough to outpace any other first baseman in the division -- although, with all due respect to Helton, that says much more about first basemen in the division than it does Helton. Anyway, he's cranking to the tune of a .315/.394/.481 mark, with much of his power coming from an affinity for doubles.

Lineup
No. Name Team Pos
1 Chase Headley SD 3B
2 Justin Upton ARI RF
3 Troy Tulowitzki COL SS
4 Matt Kemp LAD DH
5 Chris Young ARI CF
6 Carlos Gonzalez COL LF
7 Miguel Montero ARI C
8 Todd Helton COL 1B
9 Kelly Johnson ARI 2B
Johnson2B Kelly Johnson, Diamondbacks: What, you'd prefer Aaron Miles? In a case of having to take the best option, Johnson edges Miles despite the latter hitting .320 and Johnson a meager .217. So why does Johnson get the edge? Because he's a better fielder and boasts more power, and he has also swiped eight bases to Miles' three. That's how someone hitting .217/.298/.431 can post a higher Wins Above Replacement mark (1.5) than Miles at .320/.339/.377, who has a 1.0 WAR. (It should be noted that Johnson has about 100 more plate appearances, but even adding those 100 PA would probably not be enough to bump Johnson.)

Headley3B Chase Headley, Padres: Not usually a name you see at the top of leaderboards, but Headley is enjoying a career year -- and is taking advantage of injuries to notable third basemen in the game to put his name in the conversation. Due to playing in cavernous Petco Park, his slugging percentage this season is a meager .404, but it's an impressive .465 on the road. His value comes from taking a walk, which is why he leads off this All-Star team despite just eight stolen bases. He boasts a .302 batting average along with a .392 OBP. If Pablo Sandoval hadn't missed so much time due to injury, he probably would have claimed this spot.

TulowitzkiSS Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies: What is there left to say about Tulo, who right now can lay claim to being the best shortstop in the game? While he hasn't performed up to snuff compared to his last two seasons, he's still plenty valuable and easily the best shortstop in the division, hitting to the tune of a .271/.339/.495 line and 37 extra bases. Oh, and he can pick it on defense.

GonzalezLF Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies: CarGo hasn't hit as well as his awe-inspiring 2010, but he can be forgiven for that as he set impossibly high standards. Colorado will take a .296/.363/.497 line, and so will we to honor him with the left-field starting job on the NL West All-Star team. He still has a remarkable home/away split, but no other left fielder truly threatened for this spot.

YoungCF Chris Young, Diamondbacks: Let's get this out of the way first. For those wondering where Matt Kemp is, hold your horses. We'll get to him in a minute. Young snags the center field job thanks to his strong defense and a power display that we haven't seen from him since 2007, when he slammed 32 home runs. He has exactly half that total (16) in 88 games so far, so he stands a shot of cracking the 30 HR barrier. He's currently hitting .255/.324/.478.

UptonRF Justin Upton, Diamondbacks: Anyone else think Kevin Towers is relieved he didn't trade the 23-year-old in the offseason? Upton's walk rate is less than last season but not out of whack with the league, and he is striking out much less. That increased contact has lifted his batting average to .295 (.377 OBP, .502 slugging percentage), the second-highest of his career. (He hit .300 in 2009.) He's hammered 14 homers on the year, just three off his 2010 total.

KempDH Matt Kemp, Dodgers: And here Kemp is, occupying the DH spot. Yes, the DH doesn't exist in the NL West, but regardless of what team, league or stadium holds the All-Star Game, the DH is used. So there. Kemp earns this spot with a season that's already given him a 20 HR, 20 SB season -- and with three more home runs, he'll reach 25/25. So yeah, he'll definitely hit 30/30 this year, and 40/40 is not out of the question if he hits a hot streak. He DH's with a .324/.408/.603 line because the dude simply cannot field and needs to be moved to left soon.

KershawSP Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers: Kershaw is one of the best pitchers in the entire game, never mind one of the best lefties or youngsters. One of the best, period. The 23-year-old has already tossed 122 2/3 innings on the season and posted a 3.23 ERA. That ERA would actually be the highest of his full seasons in the majors. But his third year actually boasts stronger peripherals, leading to a 2.66 xFIP that is currently a career best. He has punched out 138 and walked just 33.

RomoRP Sergio Romo, Giants: Romo or Mike Adams was a very, very difficult choice to make. So why did Romo get the spot over Adams? Simple: K/BB numbers. Romo has punched out 12.87 batters per nine innings and walked 1.26, good enough for a 2.20 ERA and 1.65 xFIP in 28 2/3 innings. Adams actually beats the ERA (1.35) and innings-pitched (40), but his K.9 is 9.23 and BB/9 at 1.13, with an xFIP of 2.59.

BellCL Health Bell, Padres: Bell won't be a Padre for much longer, I'm guessing, so better get him on here while we still can. He has had quite an impressive career so far as a closer, and this year is no exception. He has 26 saves, but his strikeout numbers are way down and would actually be a career-worst. Who knows why, but he's not having trouble getting by as his 2.55 ERA and 3.78 xFIP indicate.

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Posted on: July 3, 2011 4:15 pm
Edited on: July 3, 2011 4:41 pm
 

McCutchen leads All-Snub team

Andrew McCutchen

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Many years on the day that the All-Star teams are announced, people bemoan the fan voting and selections that pick big names over deserving starters. This year won't be one of those years because for the most part the fans made good picks, as CBSSports.com senior writer Danny Knobler points out the fans and players agreed on 14 of the 17 selections. The lone starter that is obviously not worthy is Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, who is expected to come off the disabled list on Monday. Jeter's hitting just .260/.324/.324 so far this season, but he's still Derek Jeter -- not to mention his chase of 3,000 hits.

But no matter how many deserving players make the game, with a roster of 33 (plus another to be added, but even those on the 34th man ballot are eligible for our team, because four of those five won't be voted in) there are deserving players who won't be making the trip to Phoenix.

So here you go, the CBSSports.com All-Snub team:

C: Speaking of the fans getting it right, this is one position where the deserving player was voted in for both leagues, Detroit's Alex Avila and Atlanta's Brian McCann. With the Yankees' Russell Martin, Baltimore's Matt Wieters and St. Louis' Yadier Molina, the five most deserving players at the position are headed to Phoenix. The best of those left out is already in Phoenix -- the Diamondbacks' Miguel Montero, who is hitting .270/.344/.457 with nine homers. 

Paul Konerko1B: This position is so loaded that it's almost as tough picking its All-Snub member as it is the All-Star representatives. The fans got it right with Adrian Gonzalez and Prince Fielder, while Albert Pujols sits at home during the break for the first time since 2002. Both Mark Teixeira and Paul Konerko have strong cases for the All-Snub pick, and in the end I'm going to go with Konerko, who is hitting .317/.387/.567 with 21 homers by a nose over Teixeira and his 25 homers.

2B: Robinson Cano's 2011 hasn't equaled his 2010 and wouldn't be my pick at second base in the American League, but it's hard to get worked up and say the fans got it wrong on a guy hitting .292 with 14 homers at second base. The All-Snub representative is tough here, with the choice between the Rays' Ben Zobrist (.261/.347/.463) and Dustin Pedroia of the Red Sox (.277/.391/.406). Because I like speed, I'll take Pedroia and his 15 steals and higher walk rate, but just by a tad. Zobrist is on the 34th man ballot, so he's still got a chance. Apologies also to the Nationals' Danny Espinosa who has 15 homers already.

SS: We've discussed Jeter, but let's just acknowledge the fans noticing Jose Reyes -- even though it'd be tough to call yourself a fan and not notice what Reyes has done. The All-Snub goes to Jhonny Peralta of the Tigers, who is having a fabulous season, hitting .311/.359/.538 with 14 homers and solid defense to go with it.

3B: Arizona's Ryan Roberts wasn't even on the ballot, but he's had a fantastic first half of the season, hitting .251/.338/.430 with 10 homers and 12 stolen bases. He's a terror on the basepaths and has been one of the best all-around players at the position. Kevin Youkilis has better offensive numbers -- including 56 RBI -- but defensively he's played much like a first baseman playing at third. San Diego's Chase Headley has had a good season as well, but his glove also holds him back.

Alex GordonLF: You could certainly have made a case for Kansas City's Alex Gordon as a starter in the American League. Gordon came into the season as yesterday's news, a failed top prospect in the way of the Royals' youth movement. However, he's been the Royals' best player so far this season, hitting .301/.368/.491 with 10 home runs.

CF: I still can't believe Andrew McCutchen's name wasn't on the All-Star list, he's the best all-around center fielder in the game. He's hitting .289/.390/.493 with 12 home runs and 15 stolen bases while leading the surprising Pirates to their first winning record in years. 

RF: I'm fudging here, because the All-Star Game often has outfielders playing out of their normal spots, and here I'm going with the Phillies' Shane Victorino. The Phillies lineup as a whole has struggled for production and consistency, but Victorino has given them both. He's hitting .299/.371/.515 with nine home runs and 34 RBI. He's also a very good defender.

DH: You want some roster flexibility? You get it with this DH, who can also serve as a backup catcher -- oh, and Victor Martinez can bash. Martinez is hitting .335/.383/.490 with six home runs.

Starting pitcher: This one is interesting, because I'm going to exclude CC Sabathia, who not only didn't want to be selected, but will also ineligible to pitch in the game when he starts next Sunday. With Sabathia out of the way, I'm going with the Braves' Tommy Hanson, who is 9-4 with a 2.62 ERA in 15 starts, with more than a strikeout an inning and a league-low 6.2 hits allowed per nine innings.

Middle reliever: These guys are used to being overlooked, but that's not to say they aren't worthy. Since Braves' setup man Jonny Venters was named an All-Star, I'm going with David Robertson of the Yankees. Only in middle relief can a Yankee go unnoticed, but Robertson has been fantastic this season. In 33 1/3 innings this season, the right-hander is 1-0 with a 1.08 ERA, striking out 53 batters in 33 1/3 innings of work. He's allowed just four earned runs this season in 36 outings.

Closer: While Atlanta's Venters was recognized, his closer, Craig Kimbrel, was not. Kimbrel leads the majors with 24 saves and has a 2.57 ERA. He's struck out 67 batters in 42 innings, with 18 walks.

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Posted on: August 11, 2010 11:04 pm
 

Arizona goes back-to-back-to-back-to-back


At what point, if you're Dave Bush, do you just go ahead and hit someone?

Instead, the Diamondbacks became the seventh team in history to hit four consecutive home runs. With one out in the fourth inning, Adam LaRoche, Miguel Montero, Mark Reynolds and Stephen Drew homered off of Bush.

Bush then gave up a single to Gerardo Perra after Drew's homer, but got out of the inning without further damage. And in another odd note, the fourth was the first inning for Bush without a leadoff hit by the Diamondbacks.

Interestingly enough, Bush was the second Brewer pitcher to allow four homers in an inning, as Mike Caldwell allowed four to Boston in the fourth inning on May 31, 1980.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter.
Posted on: June 19, 2010 7:57 pm
 

Arizona's Montero upset with former teammate


Jose Valverde Diamondbacks catcher Miguel Montero didn't mince too many words when describing the mound antics of his former teammate, Jose Valverde.

"He's a (bleeping) (beep)," Montero told the Arizona Republic' s Nick Piecoro .

Now, there are several words that could be placed in those parenthesis -- but it's likely at least one, if not both, begin with an "f".

Valverde, a Diamondback from 2002-07, has an array of histrionics he goes through after strikeouts and saves, and he had one of both Friday night against the Diamondbacks. After striking out Montero, he bent down and hopped from the dirt of the mound to the infield grass.

"The way he acts, it's not right, you know?" Montero said. "You've got to be professional. I've always felt that way. And I've always told him. That's the way he is. I guess he thinks it's right. But I don't care."

Montero struck out on three consecutive splitters in the dirt.

"I never suspected that," Montero said. "I didn't think he had that kind of brain to throw three splits in a row. It surprised me."
-- C. Trent Rosecrans

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter.
Posted on: June 12, 2010 7:21 pm
 

Dimaondbacks get catcher Montero back


There's good news for the Diamondbacks with the return of catcher Miguel Montero, who had surgery April 15 to repair a tear in the meniscus in his right knee.

Montero was Arizona's regular catcher last season, batting .294 with 16 homers and 59 RBI. That's some nice pop from the catcher position, and the Diamondbacks (13th in the National League in batting, though they've managed to score the fourth-most runs in the league) could use it. John Hester, sent down to make room for Montero, was batting .188, while Arizona's other catcher, Chris Snyder, is 2-for-22 this month.

Montero completed a four-game rehab stint with Triple-A Reno on Friday.

-- David Andriesen

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