Tag:Stephen Strasburg
Posted on: September 6, 2011 10:37 am

Pepper: Capping Strasburg's 2012 innings


By Evan Brunell

Inning limit: As Stephen Strasburg prepares to dazzle baseball with his skills Tuesday night in his much-anticipated return from Tommy John surgery, the question arises as to exactly how many innings the Nats can get out of its presumptive ace next season.

As the Washington Times writes, Washington determines inning limits on an individual basis, taking into account "their age, conditioning, innings in the previous season and big- league innings before the injury." For example, Jordan Zimmermann was shut down at 161 1/3 innings this season, the season after his own Tommy John surgery. That represented a 20 percent increase over his previous career-high set in 2009, which is a traditional barometer in baseball.

Assuming the same 20 percent increase, Strasburg would throw 147 innings in 2012, up from 2010's 123 2/3 innings between the majors and minors. That limit is based off his previous high, not off any complications from the surgery, which could factor in -- although other pitchers have cracked 200 innings a year after surgery, so that shouldn't hold Strasburg back. Washington won't make any type of determination until spring training, which is the smart move. Bank on a cap similar to Zimmermann's 160, but that could always change if the Nats find themselves in a postseason race down the stretch.

Mattingly eager
: Don Mattingly, skipper of the Dodgers, is eager to see Strasburg at work against the Dodgers.  "He's created a buzz, that's for sure, last year, and [he] continues to," Mattingly told MLB.com. "And he's produced. When he's pitched, he's pitched well."

Span back: The concussed Span is back with the Nationals after resting at home in Tampa for the past week. Span, who suffered the injury on June 3 and later hit the disabled list retroactive to Aug. 3, still harbors hope of returning this season. "I do truly believe that I will be back on the field," Span told MLB.com. "When? I don't know. But I will be back out there. If things go good, I would like to go into the offseason having played in some games here. I'd rather do that than go into the offseason not playing at all."

It's always interesting to hear a player's take on concussions, as it remains a relatively new (at least, as far as admitting the injury and properly diagnosing it goes) injury and one that is still undergoing plenty of research. Here's Span's take:

"It's not a normal injury," he said. "Sometimes you start wondering if people believe what you're telling them about how you feel. So mentally, it's little things like that. You know how this game is and all masculine sports -- everybody feels that if you're not bleeding, you should go out there and play. And I tried doing that, so it's not like I didn't try. So that's been tough for me."

Retirement? Hideki Okajima doesn't know what his future will hold, but it's definitely not Boston. Despite pitching well in Triple-A after a failed early-season stint with the Red Sox, Okajima hasn't returned since being outrighted off the 40-man. Once a strong setup man, the ensuing years haven't been kind to the Japanese left-hander, but he didn't help himself by saying he'd rather remain in Pawtucket than return to Boston when he was first demoted back down to Triple-A.

Now, Okajima isn't sure what type of offers he will get from other clubs in the winter, but wouldn't rule out a return back to Japan or even retirement.

"I didn't expect to be in this situation, but this is reality," he told the Providence Journal. "I am here. It's obviously very disappointing to be in this situation in this point in the year, but this is reality and this is where I belong right now. I've accepted that fact and just have to rethink how I approach the game so I can be where I want to be next season."

Ziegler adjusting: It took some time for the former A to adjust to life as a Diamondback, both with the transition to the NL and trying to conform to Arizona's philosophy of varying times to the plate to help control the running game. He hasn't allowed a run or walk in his last 4 1/3 innings over six games, stranding eight baserunners. "The National League style of ball is different and it took a little getting used to," Ziegler told MLB.com. "Hitters are more aggressive early in the count and it made a difference just in how I had to approach each at-bat."

9/11: The Yankees won't be in the city for the 10th anniversary of terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center on Sept. 11 this Sunday, so will hold a ceremony on Wednesday. Click through to read what the ceremony will hold. (MLB.com)

Furcal wants to return: Rafael Furcal hopes to return to the Cardinals after the year, a prospect St. Louis is hoping comes to pass. The Cards have a busy offseason on their hands, so Furcal may have to wait, but given the shortstop's brittle body, isn't expected to command a significant deal. Ideally, the Cards would ink Furcal for one season on an incentive-laden contract. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Social media: After being part of one of the more controversial plays -- and certainly the most controversial in replay history thus far -- the Marlins' Bryan Peterson discussed the play for a half-hour on Twitter before calling it quits when tweets got derogatory. It's incredible how fast the social media revolution has hit baseball, as now players are taking to Twitter to discuss controversial plays with the fanbase. That would have been unheard of five years ago. (MLB.com)

Drafting time: Baseball players take their fantasy sports seriously. Just check out this photo Matt Kemp tweeted of the Dodgers' fantasy football draft. (Kemp's Twitter)

Rookie time: The Marlins called up third baseman Matt Dominguez as part of September callups. It's the first stint in the bigs for Dominguez, who was considered a heavy favorite to open the year as the starting third baseman. He won't play extensively down the stretch, but will be showcasing himself to be next season's starting third baseman. (MLB.com)

Good news: The Mets got encouraging reports on two injured players integral to the team. Johan Santana is proceeding on pace and will throw on Friday in a minor-league game. With playoffs likely over after the weekend, that would line up Santana's next stint to come in the majors, where he'd throw two or three innings. Meanwhile, Ike Davis participated in baseball activities all weekend pain-free. Doctors still need to sign off on his ankle, but it appears as if he will be 100 percent for spring training. (ESPN New York)

Speaking of... Speaking of Davis, here's some more stuff on the Mets first baseman, who believes he won't need surgery on his ankle. "The bottom line is there are gonna be some effects from this my whole life," Davis told the New York Post. "Either arthritis or something else later on, but as long as it's not sharp pain, [I can play]." While doctors are expected to sign off on his ankle, Davis says it's a day-to-day thing at this point, so surgery remains possible.

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Posted on: September 1, 2011 9:07 pm
Edited on: September 2, 2011 12:47 am

Strasburg dominant in final rehab outing

By Matt Snyder

It has been more than a year, but the path is clear for another Strasmas in Washington. Pitching phenom Stephen Strasburg completed his rehab assignment Thursday night by giving Double-A Harrisburg an utterly dominant performance. Strasburg had a perfect game through four innings. A hits batsman was his only blemish in the fifth and in the sixth he worked around a double. The final line for the right hander: Six innings, one hit, zero walks, zero runs and four strikeouts. He threw 70 pitches, 53 of which were strikes (via MiLB.com). Reportedly, Strasburg's fastball topped out at 99 on the radar gun (Nathan Fenno on Twitter).

Basically, there's no reason to have him pitching against minor-leaguers any longer. And he's not going to.

Strasburg's comeback
Strasburg will start Tuesday for the Nationals against the Dodgers. It's a Washington home game, so expect one of the biggest crowds of the season to see his return. He'll be limited to 80 pitches or five innings (MASNsports.com), but don't expect that to tone down the electricity. Sure, it was only Double-A Thursday night, but Strasburg only needed 54 pitches to get through five innings.

In looking ahead at the schedule, assuming Strasburg stays on normal rest, here's what his remaining slate looks like:

Sept. 6, vs. Dodgers (Ted Lilly)
Sept. 11, vs. Astros (Henry Sosa)
Sept. 16, vs. Marlins
Sept. 21, at Phillies
Sept. 26, at Marlins

Those three home games will be a box office smash for the Nationals and it appears Strasburg will have four very winnable games along with a big measuring stick -- on the road against the best team in the majors.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 1, 2011 9:42 am

Pepper: Plenty of good seats available

Dodger Stadium

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Los Angeles Times columnist Bill Plaschke went to Wednesday afternoon's Dodgers-Padres game and talked to all six fans in section 314. Six. The announced crowd was 27,767 -- but there were actually fewer than 8,000, Plaschke estimated and may have been the smallest crowd in Dodger Stadium history. 

Every time I've been to Dodger Stadium it's been full and rocking -- this tells you as much as you need to know about how LA fans feel about Frank McCourt.

On the market: But the McCourts did sell one of their two homes near the Playboy Mansion, so there's that. It was the smaller of the two houses in Holmby Hills going for "just" $6.14 million. [Los Angeles Times]

Click here: Really nice work by the Detroit News illustrating just how quickly a Justin Verlander fastball gets on a batter. Check it out.

No sympathy: White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire is one of his closest friends in the game, but he's not exactly feeling sorry for him -- "No, because I've seen him celebrating a lot with a lot of champagne over his body when I've watch him [over the years]," he told reporters (MLB.com). "Get them next year, Gardy."

Jays scouting Darvish: Toronto general manager Alex Anthopoulos was in Japan on Wednesday scouting right-hander Yu Darvish. The Rangers and Yankees have also scouted him in person, while the Nationals, Orioles, Red Sox and Rays also have reportedly been interested in Darvish. [Toronto Sun]

Theo happy in Boston: Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein made his first remarks about his name being thrown around in talks about the open Cubs job -- he said he's "really happy to be with the Red Sox." He didn't elaborate much or deny any interest in the Cubs job, but why should he? Leverage is a good thing and there's no reason for Epstein to give that up. [WEEI.com]

Beane leading Cubs' wish list: Cubs owner Tom Ricketts was in San Francisco on Wednesday, while A's general manager Billy Beane was at home in the Bay Area and his team was in Cleveland -- coincidence? [Chicago Sun-Times

Rooftops expected: For the first time in a decade, all the Wrigley rooftops around the Cubs' home park have been inspected by city health officials. [Chicago Tribune]

Measuring power: An interesting article on FanGraphs.com asking the best way to measure power -- because what exactly are we talking about when we talk about power? It's more than just homers, but shouldn't homers count more? Anyway, the result is a stat called wXB -- or weighted extra bases. However, the problem with this is that are triples really a measure of power? You're not going to find anyone who says Dexter Fowler has more power than David Ortiz, but you wouldn't be surprised to learn Fowler has more triples than Ortiz.

Strasmas returns: Not that it's any surprise, but ticket prices have gone through the roof for the Stephen Strasburg's "Strasurrection" start on Sept. 6. [Washington Post]

Cards want to extend Berkman: The Houston Chronicle's Richard Justice told a St. Louis radio station that the Cardinals approached Lance Berkman about a contract extension in July and the 35-year-old "very much wants to stay" in St. Louis. However, the fact he didn't sign an extension implies Berkman will at least test the free agent waters. [NBC Sports]

Phillies doomed: The Phillies are a favorite for the World Series this season, but enjoy it now, Phillies fans. Grantland.com's Rany Jazayerli writes that the team isn't built for the long haul, as the team is saddled with bloated contracts and aging players. A really interesting read.

Moose is loose: Royals rookie Mike Moustakas has found his groove. After starting his career hitting .182, he's raised his average to .232 with a 14-game hitting streak. [MLB.com]

Movie time for A's: Several A's say they're curious to see Moneyball when it premiers later this month. [Baseball Prospectus]

Bay to center? Could the Mets move Jason Bay to center field in 2012? That's one of the things the team is considering, even though it seems like it would certainly weaken the team's outfield defense. But hey, the guy is owed a ton of money, so he'd have to be put somewhere. The move would also allow Daniel Murphy's bat to get in the lineup in left, with Lucas Duda in right. Of course, Murphy wasn't able to play left in 2009, so I'm not exactly sure why he would be able to now. [New York Daily News]

Pujols teases fan: A good friend of mine can't stand Albert Pujols -- when 60 Minutes did the feature about all his charitable work, my friend wasn't impressed. He once had a to do a story on Pujols, who blew him off. He went back the next day, and Pujols was a jerk to him again. So I'm guessing he'll like this story about Pujols taunting a Brewer fan. [Big League Stew]

Quentin's return uncertain: White Sox outfielder Carlos Quentin is eligible to come off the disabled list on Monday, but he said he's unsure if he'll be ready to play by then. He went on the disabled list for a sprained AC joint in his left shoulder Saturday, but hadn't played since Aug. 20. [Chicago Tribune]

Uehara's option vests: When Rangers reliever Koji Uehara appeared in his 55th game of the season on Wednesday, his $4 million option for 2012 vested. [MLBTradeRumors.com]

More Garfoose: Not to overload you with Dirk Hayhurst stuff, but some might find this interesting -- the recently released pitcher is auctioning off some of his game-used gear for charity. [DirkHayhurst.com]

40th anniversary: On Sept. 1, 1971, the Pittsburgh Pirates became the first team in Major League history to field an all-minority lineup, with Dock Ellis taking the mound. [The Hardball Times]

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Posted on: August 31, 2011 6:01 pm
Edited on: September 2, 2011 12:53 am

September Storyline: The return of Strasburg

By Matt Snyder

The picture above was taken June 8, 2010. Stephen Strasburg had emerged from the Washington Nationals dugout for the first time, ready to carry the future of a floundering franchise with his mighty right arm. A sellout crowd was on hand, buzzing with anticipation of this possible savior. They did not go home disappointed. Strasburg looked every bit the part of an elite ace. He struck out 14 hitters in his seven innings, leading the Nationals to victory. The rest of the season, every time Strasburg pitched, the buzz and hype came back to the ballpark. He did his part -- ending up 5-3 with a 2.91 ERA, 1.07 WHIP and 92 strikeouts in 68 innings. The Nats went 8-4 in Strasburg's 12 starts. They went 61-89 in games he didn't start.

Washington had its savior.

And then he went down.

Strasburg was diagnosed in late August of 2010 with a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. In layman's terms, Strasburg had to undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery -- a procedure that requires around a year of rehab.

Losing Strasburg didn't take the Nationals out of any pennant race, but it was a huge blow to the ballclub for several reasons.

September Storylines
First of all, losing Strasburg killed the Nationals financially. They are averaging 24,049 fans per game this season, which is 57.9 percent of the stadium's capacity. Last year, Strasburg's first two starts were sellouts, with tickets on the secondary market going for triple figures. The game after Strasburg's debut drew less than 19,000. His debut alone brought in $1.5 million in revenue for the Nats, who were estimated to lose out on about $10 million of revenue with him injured for a year. Also, ratings on local TV for the debut night set records (all figures from the excellent Biz of Baseball). People were actually calling his starts "Strasmas," spinning one in every five days as a holiday. Obviously, every night isn't going to be the same as the debut, but the point remains that Strasburg -- just as Bryce Harper will be -- is a gargantuan draw for Washington. For now, he's the Nationals' rock star.

Next, morale took a hit upon news of the injury. The Nats were 81-81 in their first season, but haven't won more than 73 games since. They have finished in last place five of their six seasons, and the one time they didn't it was a fourth-place finish. Getting a pitcher the caliber of Strasburg was symbolic. We don't have to be a doormat any longer. But when he went down, it had to be a huge blow to the mindset of the suffering fan base and even the team itself. Now, with his return, Nationals players, brass and fans can start thinking about a future that includes Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann, Ryan Zimmerman, Bryce Harper, Anthony Rendon, Danny Espinosa, Michael Morse, Tyler Clippard, Henry Rodriguez and a host of others. Hope of contending is actually on the horizon, and as our friend Andy Dufresne taught us, hope is a good thing.

Now, the question becomes whether or not Strasburg will ever be able to stay healthy for long periods of time. He throws so hard and puts an awful lot of torque on his shoulder and elbow. If he can return to form, he gives the Nats a legitimate ace to anchor the promising future of the franchise. Tommy John surgery isn't necessarily a harbinger of things to come. The following pitchers came back just fine -- many better -- from the procedure: John Axford, Chris Carpenter, John Smoltz, Billy Wagner, Brian Wilson, C.J. Wilson, Shaun Marcum and, of course, Tommy John himself. But what if Strasburg's motion lends itself to breaking him down?

We'll start finding out soon. After making one more rehab start Thursday night, Strasburg will make his first start for the Nationals in 2011 September 6. He was lights-out last time on the mound in Triple-A, so he should be ready to step right back on the hill and pick up where he left off last August. How Strasburg fares in the final month will easily be one of the biggest storylines in all of baseball, because he's a game changer.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: August 30, 2011 5:38 pm
Edited on: August 30, 2011 5:38 pm

Stephen Strasburg to return to Nats on Sept. 6

StrasburgBy Evan Brunell

You can expect a sold-out crowd in Washington on Sept. 6, as Stephen Strasburg will be making his 2011 debut against the Dodgers, provided he experiences no setbacks in his next rehab start.

Strasburg is making his sixth and final rehab start in Double-A on Thursday. So far, Strasburg has made five rehab starts in his recovery from Tommy John surgery, posting a 5.02 ERA across three levels and is coming off allowing one run in five innings for Triple-A.

Assuming the Nationals keep Strasburg on schedule he'll make three straight home starts on Sept. 6, 11 and 16 before his first road start in Philadelphia on the 21st.

By the way, Strasburg will get his first chance to be Bryce Harper's teammate on Thursday, as Harper is currently assigned to the Double-A team. Harper won't play as he's currently on the disabled list, but it won't be the last time Strasburg and Harper will be teammates, as Harper is expected to debut in the majors at some point next season.
For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed. Information from a previous report was used.

Posted on: August 29, 2011 6:28 pm
Edited on: August 29, 2011 6:30 pm

Next rehab start for Strasburg is Sept. 1

StrasburgBy Evan Brunell

Stephen Strasburg will make his next -- and possibly final -- rehab start on Sept. 1 for Double-A, Amanda Comak of the Washington Times tweets.

So far, Strasburg has made five rehab starts in his recovery from Tommy John surgery, posting a 5.02 ERA across three levels and is coming off allowing one run in five innings for Triple-A. The Double-A start is expected to be his final rehab start, clearing the way for him to rejoin the Nationals and take Jordan Zimmermann's spot in the rotation, who is being shut down due to reaching his innings limit.

Assuming the Nationals keep Strasburg on schedule to start five days after the Thursday start, the right-hander's first major-league start of the season would come on Tuesday, Sept. 6 at home against the Dodgers. Washington is on a homestand from Sept. 2 to Sept. 11, so regardless of which specific day he makes his debut, he will certainly do so in front of his home crowd. Assuming Strasburg stays on schedule, he make three straight home starts on Sept. 6, 11 and 16 before his first road start in Philadelphia on the 21st.

By the way, Strasburg will get his first chance to be Bryce Harper's teammate on Thursday, as Harper is currently assigned to the Double-A team. Harper won't play as he's currently on the disabled list, but it won't be the last time Strasburg and Harper will be teammates, as Harper is expected to debut in the majors at some point next season.

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

Posted on: August 28, 2011 2:03 am

Strasburg impressive in 5th rehab start

Stephen StrasburgBy C. Trent Rosecrans

Stephen Strasburg was perfect through five innings in his fifth rehab start Saturday at Trple-A Syracuse before allowing two singles to start the sixth inning. Strasburg was pulled after the first two batters and charged with a run, but that hardly overshadowed the rest of his night.

In his first start above Class A, Strasburg jumped to Triple-A where he struck out seven of the 17 patters he faced and didn't even allow a fly ball out until the fifth inning. His fastball registered up to 98 mph, the Associated Press reported. He was pulled after 64 pitches (47 strikes) and is expected to make one more start before returning to the big leagues on Sept. 6, when the Nationals host the Dodgers. That would also be just three days after the anniversary of his Tommy John surgery last Sept. 3.

In five starts so far, he's 0-1 with a 5.04 ERA, but 25 strikeouts and just three walks in 14 1/3 innings. He's allowed 13 hits and nine runs (eight earned).

"This is my fifth start in a year," Strasburg told Dave Seinin of the Washington Post. "So I'm still probably in the middle of spring training mode, and it's probably going to feel that way, unfortunately, until the end of the year."

The end of the year should come in a big-league uniform, though.

Strasburg would likely pitch again on Sept. 1. So far in his rehab, he's only pitched home games for Nationals affiliates, making Double-A Harrisburg the likely destination for his final tune-up. Nationals manager Davey Johnson has said Strasburg wouldn't pitch for the Nationals until Sept. 6, but the fact he put that specific date on it makes it seem Strasburg would continue pitching every fifth day and return to Nationals Park on the day after Labor Day.

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Posted on: August 24, 2011 10:30 am

Pepper: Quade's excusing of Castro a mistake


By Evan Brunell

Lighten up: Much has been made of Starlin Castro missing a pitch in Sunday's game, with his back to the plate while playing in the field. Understandably, many people -- including ESPN announcer Bobby Valentine -- were outraged, with Valentine excoriating Castro on air.

Also unsurprisingly, Cubs players are rushing to Castro's defense, with Aramis Ramirez the latest to tell everyone to back off. And Ramirez has a pretty good idea what it may be like to be Castro, who is 21 years old. Ramirez made his big-league debut at age 19.

"People need to realize that he's only 21 -- he's going to make mistakes," Ramirez told MLB.com. "He's going to make mental mistakes. ... I made it to the big leagues when I was 19, and I made a lot of mistakes. That's part of [the game]."

Ramirez added that Castro has apologized to the team and everyone's moved on.

"I think [such a big deal was made] because it was an ESPN game, a nationally televised game," Ramirez said. "[But] that stuff shouldn't happen. Starlin would be the first one to tell you that shouldn't happen. Even when you're a veteran, you make mistakes."

Here's the problem, though: Mike Quade had something to say, and it was the wrong thing. Castro was benched Monday in a pretty clear response to his not paying attention to the pitch, but Quade passed it off as a mental day, missing an opportunity to show everyone -- including owner Tom Ricketts, who may fire Quade after the year -- that he's the boss. He missed another opportunity by excusing Castro's behavior for the limelight of being a Cubs player.

"I may agree that too much was being made of it but this is the world we're in and this is the spotlight we're under," Quade said. "You can think what you want, but when you're playing in a market like this at a level like this, you can expect this kind of attention, and you can expect to be under a microscope like this."

Since when did a player's uniform affect attention span? Not paying attention during the game is not paying attention, period.

Back at it
: The next outing for Stephen Strasburg will come on Saturday, which will be his fifth rehab start since returning from Tommy John surgery. It's also the first one that will be at a higher level than Single-A, with Strasburg heading to Triple-A, which should allow Strasburg to lock in and focus on executing pitches against advanced competition as he prepares for an early September return to Washington. (Washington Times)

Will Wandy go? Steve Campbell of the Houston Chronicle says that how the Astros handle the Wandy Rodriguez waiver claim situation will go a long way in determining how new owner Jim Crane will handle things. " Is he really about trying try to build things the right way for sustainable success, or is the endgame nothing more than to dump salary for dumping salary’s sake?" Campbell writes. "If the Astros do nothing more than a salary dump, however, then fans have reason to be afraid — very afraid — for the future. Houston is too big and too good of a market to become the National League’s Kansas City of the South — perpetually turning over the roster with young, cheap players without committing the resources necessary to build a winner."

Best scooper: Eric Hosmer wasn't called up to the majors until May 6, but his 27 scoops at first base (yes, this really is measured) is just one behind Adam Lind for most in the AL, while Carlos Pena leads baseball with 52. Three additional AL players have 27 scoops. “What I had to learn when I got here,” Hosmer told the Kansas City Star, “was, when you pick it, you’ve got to stay through it (with a sweeping motion). You have an imaginary line on where you think the ball is going to bounce. Before, I was just working up and down. Then I learned to go through the ball.”

Capping the draft: There were plenty of big paydays to high school and college players once the dust settled last week on the signing deadline for drafted players. The money is so exorbitant, that it's only deepened commissioner Bud Selig's resolve to introduce a hard-slotting system. But is that good for baseball? (Kansas City Star)

Moneyball: Before long, the blockbuster movie centered around the book that made so many waves in baseball will premiere, with Brad Pitt as A's GM Billy Beane. New York Magazine has a great story out about the movie and how it had to jump through hoops to get made... and what, exactly, Hollywood is taking away from Moneyball.

Game changed: But Billy Beane says the game is different these days, and the gap between the big- and low-money teams is even more pronounced, with the window for small markets to compete that much smaller than just a decade ago, as Oakland has been reduced to taking fliers on players as their only options.  “Sometimes, you’re relegated to buying that lottery ticket,” Beane told the New York Times. “Anybody will tell you that the lottery is not a great way to invest your money. But sometimes, you don’t have a lot of options.”

Window closing? Since the Cardinals won the World Series in 2006, they have yet to win another postseason game. With Chris Carpenter, Albert Pujols and others only getting older and reaching free agency, is it possible St. Louis' window of competition has closed? It seems like it, but how did the window get missed in the first place with strong teams over the last four years? (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Brave injuries
: Tommy Hanson, one of Atlanta's best pitchers, keeps experiencing setbacks while sensation Jose Constanza is hobbled by a right-ankle sprain. Constanza is day-to-day and could be back as early as Wednesday, but Hanson is a different story. He threw a nine-pitch throwing session on Monday, the first time throwing from the mound since Aug. 6, but the report was sobering enough that his Tuesday bullpen session was canceled. Hanson will now wait for his condition to improve. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

The Say-Hey Kid: Cameron Maybin received an honor by spending time at the home of baseball great Willie Mays, and Maybin was understandably bowled over by the meeting. Mays has been impressed with Maybin this season and invited him over when San Diego was in San Francisco before Tuesday's game. The Giants said while Mays has been known to go out to dinner with young players, they can't recall an invitation to go to Mays' home ever being extended to a player. “I took him my jersey, signed it for him,” Maybin told the San Diego Union-Tribune. “Think of that. My jersey’s in Willie Mays’ house.”

Starting Greinke: The Brewers considered delaying Zack Greinke's next start so he could face the Cardinals, but manager Ron Roenicke may not go that route. Roenicke believes that Milwaukee should focus on winning every game, while Greinke isn't keen on starting a game on eight days rest. Nothing is decided yet, but the outcome appears obvious. (MLB.com)

Web Gems: Last season, Sam Miller of the Orange County Register found an East Coast bias in Web Gems, which may have been in part due to fan voting. This season, though, with tweaked rules, there is no such bias. The top five teams with the most Web Gems in 2011 are the Indians, Rangers, Rays, Brewers and Royals.

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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