Tag:Wilson Ramos
Posted on: April 18, 2011 2:01 pm

Brewers manager Roenicke employing shifts

By Evan Brunell

FielderNew manager Ron Roenicke has brought a new twist to the proceedings in Milwaukee, with his constant defensive shifts the talk of baseball.

Roenicke was in charge of evaluating the opponents' spray charts during his time as Angels bench coach. The spray charts revealed tellingly where hitters usually put balls in play and upon being named to helm Milwaukee, told his coaching staff that he planned to utilize defensive shifts more often.

No one could have envisioned how far Roenike would go, however, as defensive shifts are used on a nightly basis.

"We're playing the percentages," Roenicke told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. "We're looking at spray charts, seeing where guys hit the ball. ... It's up the middle that's the big part. Guys hit a lot of balls up the middle, and I want that covered if I can. ...

"It's always bothered me when, say, a right-handed hitter hits one ground ball to the right side and he hits 60 ground balls to the left side, why are we playing two guys on the right side? It makes no sense to me."

Prince Fielder is certainly no stranger to defensive shifts, as he routinely has to deal with three infielders on the right side of the diamond.

"As a hitter, it's frustrating at times. Now that I'm used to it, I don't let it bother me. I used to. But what can you do about it? It's going to be around the rest of my career," Fielder said. "[We] might get beat sometimes, but more often than not when they put on the shift I hit it to where they are. There's not many times I hit a ground ball right where the shortstop should be," he added, clearly believing that shifts are the way to go.

The Brewers have already been beat thanks to the shift, however. On Friday night, Wilson Ramos knocked a single through the right side in the second inning, which ended up being pivotal in an eventual 4-3 win for the Nationals. However, the occasional loss doesn't outweigh the overall benefits of taking hits away on a regular basis. After all, losing thanks to the shift stands out more than winning thanks to the shift as you can't easily point to a certain situation that changed the complexion of the game thanks to the shift.

"I've seen Vladimir Guerrero, for so many years [opponents] over-shift and take base hits away from him," said Roenicke, who used infield shifts against four Washington hitters Friday night. "And now with Prince, so far in spring training and [the regular season], they take a lot of hits away because they over-shift," Roenicke said. "In that inning [Friday], it hurt us on the catcher's ball. I don't know if he was trying to go that way. It looked like he was.

"But, so far, it has really helped us."

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Posted on: April 12, 2011 12:11 pm

Nats calling up Flores

Jesus FloresBy C. Trent Rosecrans

With Ryan Zimmerman headed to the disabled list, the Nationals will call up catcher Jesus Flores from Triple-A Syracuse, Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post writes.

The move is a surprise because Flores is another right-handed bat on the bench and he will be the team's third catcher.

Washington has already said Wilson Ramos has moved ahead of Ivan Rodriguez as the team's starting catchers, could this move mean the end of Pudge's time with the Nationals?

Flores, 26, started 2009 as the team's everyday catcher but a string of injuries has kept him from returning to the big leagues since then.

Flores is a career .260/.313/.406 hitter at the big league level.

The team also has a top prospect in Derek Norris, who the team hopes is its long-term answer at the position, making Rodriguez and possible Flores expendable. If Flores shows he's back to where he was in 2009 before his injuries (.301/.371/.505 in 29 games), either he or Ramos could bring back more in trade. 

Rodriguez, 39, is a free agent after the season.

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Posted on: April 9, 2011 12:50 pm

Pepper: Appreciating Manny's talent


By Evan Brunell

MORE MANNY: Stop me if you've heard this before, but Joe Posnanski has written a great story. And as you may have gathered by now, it's about Manny Ramirez. Here's Poz:

In my own romantic view of baseball and the world, I tended to see Manny as baseball’s Mozart — an often vile personality who did one thing so beautifully that you could not turn away. ... [I]t was clear that these tough old baseball men who had no respect at all for the way Ramirez treated the game were almost absurdly awed by his talent. They talked of games he would play with pitchers during spring training to set them up later in the year. They talked of adjustments he would make pitch-to-pitch that were so remarkable they could only compare it to chess grandmasters. Bill James ... insisted that Manny Ramirez would purposely get into 3-2 counts with a runner on first so that the runner would be on the move with the pitch and could then score on the double MannyBManny planned to hit.

There's no question that Manny's legacy is stained beyond repair. He's effectively failed three drug tests now, and we're all left to wonder just how long this has been going on. But despite steroids, Manny was a revelation. After all, how many people took steroids to get ahead and how many turned out like Manny? While there's no excuse for Ramirez's actions, it's always been clear that he had an incredible, uncanny ability to hit, both mentally and physically. Those talents come along once in a generation and while Ramirez deserves every ounce of blame for sullying his magical talent, you can't help but marvel at what he's done in the game. (Sports Illustrated)

OWNERS NARROWED: The Mets have narrowed their search for a new minority owner to eight candidates. "They are very happy with the numbers they're seeing. There's a range - the low end is marginally acceptable and the high end is very acceptable," a source said of the Wilpons, who are expected to bring in the new owner by July. (New York Daily News)

ROTATION QUESTIONS: Shaun Marcum seems as if he will be able to make his next start on Tuesday, so Marco Estrada appears ticketed for the bullpen. (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)

LOVING BASEBALL: The president of Harvard University takes to the newspaper pages to write about why she loves baseball. (Philly.com)

UP, UP AND AWAY: For the first time in his life, Brandon Belt's father stepped onto a plane, all to watch his son play a game in San Francisco. Darrell and wife live in Texas. (San Jose Mercury News)

PLANE SCARE: Tony La Russa and four players were flying to a charity event for La Russa when their plane's cabin failed to pressurize. The plane returned to the airport and did not climb above 10,000 feet. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

ESCOBAR IMPROVING: Yunel Escobar is taking encouraging steps back from a mild concussion suffered Wednesday. He could be back in the lineup as early as Sunday, but new concussion guidelines means he must undergo a final round of testing Saturday before he can take the field. (MLB.com)

RAMOS WINS JOB: Wilson Ramos will become the full-time starting catcher in Washington as Ivan Rodriguez's role is phased back. Don't be surprised to see Pudge eventually traded. (MLB.com)

ALZHEIMER'S: No matter who you are or what you did, no one deserves the agony of Alzheimer's. Yet, that's what Stan Musial is battling as a new biography of Stan the Man details. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

NO MORE HAT FOR LONGORIA: The New Era commercial with Evan Longoria losing his hat was rather popular last season, but this year New Era is going forward with Alec Baldwin from 30 Rock and John Krasinski from The Office, creating another solid commercial. (Big League Stew)

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Posted on: April 5, 2011 10:49 am
Edited on: April 5, 2011 1:05 pm

Pepper: Kazmir struggling, future in doubt


By Evan Brunell

Scott Kazmir's job could be in danger.

After going through what Kaz termed "boot camp" in the offseason, the hope was that the former top left-hander would move on from his 5.94 ERA from 2010, the highest among pitchers who tossed at least 140 innings. However, the former Rays ace had an awful spring training and imploded in his first start of the season on Sunday against the Royals.

Manager Mike Scioscia was already unhappy with Kazmir's progress, and his outing Sunday only made things worse. One has to seriously wonder if Los Angeles is considering releasing Kazmir and the $14.5 million left on his contract. It's certainly been a long fall from grace for Kazmir and unfortunately it appears as if whatever made him great in the past is gone for good.

The skipper had no easy answers for Kaz's slow start, saying that he has no velocity or command. "Kaz is a little more complicated, a little more baffling," he said. The Angels do have starting pitcher Joel Pineiro on the way back from injury along with reliever Scott Downs, so Kazmir could lose his rotation spot in quick order. 

The only question is: is he moved to the bullpen or do the Angels cut ties entirely? (Los Angeles Times)

GOING YARD: Will Texas' Nelson Cruz go yard again on Tuesday to have homered in five consecutive games? That's a question Eye on Baseball blogger C. Trent Rosecrans attempts to answer in MLB Today. (CBS Sports)

PETE ROSE MANAGING: That's Junior, not the Hit King. The son of Pete Rose is now managing the White Sox's rookie-level squad after long stints as a minor-league and indy-ball player. (Chicago Sun-Times)

KID REPLACING IDOL: Over in Washington, Wilson Ramos has the tough task of replacing his idol behind the plate in Ivan Rodriguez. Pudge has graciously accepted a reduced role, while the Nats are excited about the potential Ramos has. (Washington Times)

TAKING NO LIP: The judge in the upcoming perjury trial for Roger Clemens has had enough of the Rocket and his accuser, Brian MacNamee, taking to the media to spread their own opinions of the trial. Judge Reggie Walton has since reminded the two that they are not allowed to talk about the case. (New York Times)

STEROIDS OUT: Brian Giles' potential use of steroids has been disallowed in a pending palimony trial against his ex-fiance, who is accusing him of owing her over $10 million as well as abusing her. His links to steroids would have been used to attempt to establish that he did, in fact, abuse her. (San Diego Union-Tribune)

BEER VIA TWITTER: A Mariners beer vendor may be onto something here as he will take beer orders via Twitter for the Mariners' home opener on Friday. Seems like it could be abused, but it's hard to imagine anyone sitting at home sending a beer vendor fake orders from fake seats, even in this day and age. This is definitely a service that could end up becoming common in all stadiums depending how well it is executed. (CNBC)

MORE RESTRICTIONS: In light of the abominable beating two Dodgers fans put on a Giants fan, the L.A. County supervisor is calling for additional security at Dodger Stadium as well as more restrictive limits on sales of booze. (Los Angeles Times)

THERE'S ALWAYS HOPE: Austin Kearns' son was diagnosed with autism at 14 months back in 2009. His son is doing well, however, receiving treatment at a Cleveland hospital that was also the main reason why the outfielder returned to the Indians after signing with the team for 2010 and being traded halfway through the year to the Yankees. (MLB.com)

ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: Of the potential bidders to become minority owner of the Mets, one has the executive producer of Entourage footing the bill. If Doug Ellin ended up with the team, it could mean a jolt of starpower as quite a few of the actors on the show are Mets fans and could show up to games. (New York Daily News)

FREEZE! A rather interesting story that Stan Musial actually froze his appendix inside his body back in 1947. This allowed Stan the Man to stay on the field and finish out the year before having an appendectomy after the year. You don't usually hear about frozen appendixes, so it's quite a fascinating story. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

SEVENTH INNING FOR JOBA: Joba Chamberlain appears to have a lock on the seventh-inning relief gig. 'We love the way he threw the ball in spring training," manager Joe Girardi said. Interesting given GM Brian Cashman and other Yankee brass were displeased with how out-of-shape Chamberlain was in spring training. (MLB.com)

IS BASEBALL DYING? Sobering news -- 43 percent of MLB fans are age 50 or older in a 2009 survey, tops among all big four sports plus MLS and NASCAR, while a low 28 percent of the coveted age 18-34 demographic prefer baseball. Plus, children are leaving baseball in droves. (BizofBaseball.com)

NAME THAT TEAM: The Cincinnati Reds' Double-A affiliate is moving into a new stadium in Pensacola, Fla. next season. There's a contest being held to determine the nickname of the club, and you must also include why you think it's a good name. (Pensacola News Journal)

NICKNAMIN': Ever wonder how each baseball team got its nickname? All set. (Delaware County Daily Times)

ON THE WAY BACK: Mat Latos tossed a simulated game on Monday and came through it with flying colors. He will be re-evaluated Tuesday, and it's possible the right-hander could be activated as soon as Friday. (San Diego Union-Tribune)

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Posted on: April 2, 2011 1:25 pm

Ivan Rodriguez willing to accept backup role


By Evan Brunell

Although Ivan Rodriguez drew the start on Opening Day, manager Jim Riggleman admitted that the eventual Hall of Famer would split time evenly with Wilson Ramos to start.

"I think we literally kind of have two No. 1's there," Riggleman told CSNWashington.com. "Right now, I think we're going to move towards that."

At I-Rod's stage in his career, he best profiles as a platoon or part-time catcher, as he can't really justify a full-time role anymore with a disappearing bat. However, the 39 year old still hopes to play three or four more years in his quest for 3,000 hits (he is 183 hits away). And in what is a mild surprise, Pudge is completely accepting of a transition to a backup role and is willing to step aside for Ramos, the future behind the dish for Washington.

"He's the future of our ballclub," Rodriguez said, who figures to lose more and more playing time to Ramos as the season goes on. "I'm here to work with him. I don't have no problem with that. ... The most important thing for me is to help the ballclub."

Riggleman noted that his conversation with Rodriguez about the new situation was "one of the best conversations I've ever had with a ballplayer since I've been managing."

Although Rodriguez is willing to give way to Ramos behind the plate and serve as a mentor, he feels he still has plenty to offer.

"There's still a lot of baseball in me," he noted. "I feel like I can help this team in so many ways: in the field, off the field, with my teammates. ... I would like to finish here. That's my goal, to stay here and accomplish my goals I want to accomplish: be in another playoffs, another World Series and reach 3,000 hits."

It's unclear whether Washington has interest in bringing Rodriguez back after the season given Jesus Flores and Derek Norris are in the minors and will be knocking on the door fairly shortly. Even if Rodriguez doesn't return in Washington, however, he shouldn't have much difficulty finding a backup spot now that he's indicated a willingness to play in that role.

Don't be surprised to see him on the move this summer, though. The Nationals aren't going anywhere and can benefit from trading Rodriguez. The Houston Astros, who are desperate for a catcher, could be a fit later this season. First things first, Ramos needs to show he can produce.

"I'm very excited for this opportunity," Ramos said. "I was waiting for this. I will learn with Pudge, he's going to teach me a lot. I want to learn with him so I will try to do the best I can."

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Posted on: March 22, 2011 4:56 pm

Nats looking to deal Ivan Rodriguez

By Evan Brunell

RodriguezThe Nationals are committed to making Wilson Ramos the primary starter, as FOX Sports reports. This is the case even as the Nats intend to start Ivan Rodriguez behind the dish on opening day simply because Rodriguez is a powerful name in the history of catching -- even if Ramos is the better option.

Despite Washington's intention to start I-Rod behind the plate on March 31, Ramos is expected to draw the bulk of playing time and that is a concern for the Nats, who feel Rodriguez won't adjust well to a backup role primarily because I-Rod feels he can still contribute, intends to play multiple years and is chasing 3,000 hits of which he is 183 hits away.

Washington contacted the Red Sox about trading for Rodriguez, but Boston declined the opportunity and is going full steam ahead with the Jarrod Saltalamacchia-Jason Varitek pairing. While Boston could option Salty to the minors, it doesn't make much sense to import an aging catcher with no offensive upside. Boston also received a call from the Angels about catcher Bobby Wilson, but similarly declined the opportunity.

So what teams could fit for I-Rod? The Astros are one, who had Rodriguez to start the 2009 season before trading him to Texas for the stretch drive. Houston is dealing with the loss of Jason Castro and its current options in Humberto Quintero and J.R. Towles are weak. Rodriguez would stand to get the bulk of playing time, which would appease his apparent desire to start.

The Yankees could also bring back Rodriguez for a second stint following 33 games in 2008. Although GM Brian Cashman is adamant that the backup role will fall to Austin Romine or Jesus Montero, it's not clear that it's the prudent decision. Further working against a return to New York is the fact that Rodriguez would not start in addition to the fact that Francisco Cervelli is expected to be healthy by May in order to return to his backup role.

The Royals are one other option, but given they already have one aging catcher on the team in Jason Kendall who will be ready to return to the team by mid-April, K.C. is likely not a fit either. What they may be able to do that would appease both catchers is split playing duties, but the Royals have given no indication they're interested in adding another catcher.

In fact, there are no other teams with as good a fit as Houston when it comes to the most playing time available. If Rodriguez was willing to be a backup catcher, he would likely have a whole list of suitors -- or the Nats would simply keep him. Unless Houston comes calling, the Nationals will likely be stuck with Pudge and have to figure out a way to keep him happy but play Wilson Ramos the majority of the time.

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Posted on: March 20, 2011 1:53 pm
Edited on: April 18, 2011 11:48 am

Pepper: Collins to dial down intensity


By Evan Brunell

TIME TO LOOSEN UP: Terry Collins is well aware of his reputation as a no-nonsense manager whose intensity lost the respect of his players when he helmed the Astros and Angels.

However, to hear Collins tell it, he realizes where he went wrong and wants to make changes.


"I’ve thought about it a lot," he said. "I took it way too serious. Even though I enjoyed it, I didn’t enjoy it. It was all about the winning, winning, winning, instead of enjoying being around these guys and watching them play, enjoying the experience and the challenge of competing. That’s what I love to do.

"There was that thing that I had to prove something. I still want to prove that we’re good enough, but I don’t think it’s the same type of attitude I had in the past. And with that comes the fact that these guys are human beings, and they need communication."

Collins plans to have the Mets play aggressively, as his Angels did -- which still continues to this day under manager Mike Scioscia. He also places a premium on players aspiring to be great and staying focused, which sounds a lot like the old Collins, but the skipper knows that.

"Hopefully, the energy -- or whatever people want to say, the intenseness that I have -- may work here," Collins said. (New York Times)


IZZY COULD SET UP: Jason Isringhausen was once one of the Mets' most heralded pitching prospects before injuries completely wrecked his early years. He was later moved to Oakland and became a closer, famous for his time in St. Louis. Now, after missing most of the last two years, Izzy appears poised to set up closer Francisco Rodriguez back in New York. (New York Post)

IT'LL BE PUDGE: After a brief skirmish among Nationals reporters as to the state of the catching, it appears Ivan Rodriguez will certainly start Opening Day for Washington -- but Wilson Ramos figures to get the bulk of work behind the plate in short order. (Washington Post)

NO MORE GUYS: Five Guys is a weakness of Evan's, and it will no longer taunt him in Nationals Park, as the burger chain has opted not to renew its lease despite being one of the more popular options for customers. (Eater.com)

SILVA'S SPOT IN DANGER: Carlos Silva has had a beyond-awful spring training and although he's slated to take the bump once more next Wednesday, that may not happen. Manager Mike Quade and GM Jim Hendry are expected to sit down and make some touch decisions prior to then. It's entirely feasible that Silva will be put out of the running for the No. 5 starter's spot at that time. (Chicago Sun-Times)

GOOD NEWS FOR BREW CREW: Milwaukee already has enough problems figuring out who will replace Zack Greinke in the rotation, so bad news regarding Shaun Marcum is not ideal. However, the righty believes while he may have to skip a start in spring training, he will be on track for the regular season. (MLB.com)

THE NATURAL: Ken Griffey, Jr.'s talent on the field sometimes evoked comparisons to the immortal Ray Hobbs, but who knew that Griffey had untapped potential? Griffey stopped by the Mariners' broadcast booth for five innings Friday and drew rave reviews. (MLB.com)

BENGIE WANTS TO PLAY: Don't call Bengie Molina retired, brother Jose of the Blue Jays says. Rather, Molina isn't interested in playing unless any contract he signs "shows him sufficient respect." Is it just me, or is an offer to extend your career and haul in at least another half-million plenty of respect to give? (FOX Sports)

INCREMENTAL PROGRESS: The Yankees haven't made formal who the Nos. 4 and 5 starters will be (bank on Ivan Nova and Freddy Garcia) but now we know who is following CC Sabathia on the mound: A.J. Burnett and Phil Hughes, respectively. (New York Post)

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Posted on: March 6, 2011 9:34 pm

Heyward gives Braves a scare in return

Jason HeywardBy C. Trent Rosecrans

After missing three games with groin discomfort, Braves right fielder Jason Heyward gave his manager a scare when he landed oddly trying to avoid a tag at home.

Washington's Nyjer Morgan and Danny Espinosa gunned down Heyward, who was trying to score from first on a double by Alex Gonzalez in the second inning. Heyward slowed down and slid awkwardly in an attempt to avoid Wilson Ramos' tag.

"When he comes to the plate, you go, 'Get up, get up,' and then he got up," Fredi Gonzalez told MLB.com's Mark Bowman. "He's fine."

Heyward stayed in the game long enough to get two more at-bats. In three plate appearances, he walked once, was hit once and singled. He left the game for a pinch-runner following his seventh-inning single.

"It all felt good," said Heyward, who played in the field. "I didn't hold anything back."

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