Tag:Evan Brunell
Posted on: August 9, 2011 10:56 am

Rodriguez to meet with MLB on poker game

By Evan Brunell

RodriguezAlex Rodriguez is expected to meet with investigators from Major League Baseball to discuss the third baseman's involvement in high-stakes poker games shortly, the New York Daily News reports.

"This has been overblown," the source said. "They just want to talk to him just to tell him to stop getting in these crazy situations. There is no chance he will be suspended. There is no chance a suspension would be upheld by an arbitrator, based on what we know about this."

Rodriguez has been linked to alleged illegal underground poker games where drugs were used, especially one in Beverly Hills, Calif. with Hollywood A-list stars. He had been told by baseball previously to stay away from these types of poker games. Rodriguez has stayed silent on the issue, and a source tells the Daily News that baseball overreacted when it announced an investigation into A-Rod's involvement as it's not yet clear if these games were illegal. To be illegal, someone has to serve as the "house" and collect a cut of the winnings.

"Everybody plays cards on team planes and in clubhouses," the source said. "This is no different."

Rodriguez is currently on the disabled list with knee surgery but is expected to rejoin the team on Monday in Kansas City.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: August 9, 2011 10:42 am
Edited on: August 9, 2011 4:19 pm

Pepper: ChiSox may move from six- to four-man


By Evan Brunell

WHAT ABOUT FIVE? The White Sox had a six-man rotation for much of the season, fitting in Phil Humber after his strong start into the rotation when Jake Peavy returned from the disabled list. Now that Edwin Jackson is a Cardinal, that means the White Sox can go back to five members in the rotation, right?

Not so fast. Rookie starter Zach Stewart has made a start in the still-continuing six-man rotation and will draw another one, but after that Chicago expects to end the six-man rotation. Except instead of going back to five, the ChiSox are entertaining the thought of a four-man rotation. It would allow Mark Buerhle, who has been hot as of late -- and with the White Sox having won four in a row and pulling to within five of the division, the team needs as much improvement as it can get.

"You're tempted to say, 'Let's run [Buerhle] out there,' " pitching coach Don Cooper said. "If we keep playing good ball, it's an option we have to look at it. Get the hottest guys out there.

"We have something down on paper but nothing official," Cooper added. "We have to see how it goes. If we have a good week, and we ain't had a good week …. if we get hot, you never know." (Chicago Tribune)

: Giants manager Bruce Bochy, along with several other members of the staff, have finally quit dipping. How did they do it? By seeing a hypnotist, who explained the dangers of continuing to dip and using relaxation techniques. Bochy says that the cravings vanished almost immediately. Others remain skeptical. "Follow my finger. Do not smoke," bench coach Ron Wotus said jokingly. "You're cured. Next! ... A hypnotist, come on. Good for them. The mind is a powerful thing." (San Jose Mercury News)

SPRAINED WRIST: Carlos Beltran sprained his wrist in Monday's game, but the good news is that he might be ready to play Tuesday night. There's a quick turnaround to Wednesday afternoon, though, so it would come as no surprise if the Giants decided to keep Beltran out of the lineup until Wednesday. (Fox Sports)

'ROADIE DAD': Todd Zeile, as he put it, has gone from baseball player to producer to roadie dad as 17-year-old son Garrett's band, Jetstream, is touring with the Stone Tempe Pilots. Pretty cool, but also interesting is that the producer part of Zeile's life involves helping Charlie Sheen's show, Anger Management, get off the ground. (ESPN New York)

WHERE DO OLD SHORTSTOPS GO? San Francisco. Think about it -- the Giants had Omar Vizquel, moved to Edgar Renteria, then tabbed Miguel Tejada this season. When that didn't work out, GM Brian Sabean turned to Orlando Cabrera. No Giants shortstop who leads the team in games started over the past decade has been in his 20s. (San Francisco Chronicle)

STAMPING: The United States Postal Service is unveiling stamps with four major-leaguers commemorated. The first is Joe DiMaggio, but who else will make the list? That's unknown, but Joe Posnanski runs through the rules involving who will and won't be on the stamp and settled on Ted Williams as the most obvious choice. His most likely candidates to round out the other two stamps? Larry Doby and Carl Hubbell. (JoeBlogs)

WELCOME TO THE SHOW: The Jays are calling up a 21-year-old to fill the vacant rotation spot. Henderson Alvarez has a 2.86 ERA and could skip Triple-A so Toronto can see what it might have in the promising left-hander. (National Post)

HIRED: Former Astros hitting coach Gary Gaetti will be named the first manager of the Sugar Land Skeeters, an independent club in the Atlantic League. (Houston Chronicle)

PHONE CALL: A nice story about Phillies skipper Charlie Manuel, who called a Navy seaman battling cancer after the 2008 World Series. " It wasn't one of those "sorry you're sick, hope you feel better" calls, it was two baseball fans talking to each other about a sport they both loved," brother Scott Andrews wrote in. (Big League Stew)

SABR: Interested in what the top 40 events in baseball are since the SABR era (1971-present)? You're in luck. (SABR.org)

BREAK IT DOWN: The NPB (Japan's version of MLB) is meeting with MLB to discuss the breakdown of revenue from the World Baseball Classic. (Yakyubaka.com)

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: August 7, 2011 12:18 am

3 Up, 3 Down: Ellsbury goes off for six RBI


By Evan Brunell

Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox: Ellsbury slammed a three-run home run that helped propel the Red Sox to victory, but he wasn't done driving in runs despite his career high coming into the game was at three. He doubled that figure to six by adding a sac fly for the game's first run, then contributing to Boston's three-run outburst in he bottom of the eighth to clinch the game by driving a two-run RBI single. The leadoff hitter continues to be red hot with a .321/.377/.522 line and is receiving heavy AL MVP consideration. While he'll have to contend with teammates Adrian Gonzalez and Dustin Pedroia along with Toronto's Jose Bautista, Ellsbury is certainly deserving of the honor, and BoSox fans serenaded him with "MVP!" chants on Saturday.

Prince Fielder, Brewers: Fielder crushed four RBI in a victory over the Astros. Losses by third-place Pittsburgh and fourth-place Cincinnati left them nine and 9 1/2 back, respectively, of Milwaukee. That leaves St. Louis as the only serious contender for the division title, but the Brewers are rolling now. Fielder went 3 for 3 with two runs scored and adding two walks to push his season line to .300/.416/.562, leaving him in fantastic shape with less than two months to go before the regular season ends and he becomes a free agent. He blasted his 25th home run of the year, tying him for fourth in the NL with Mike Stanton, three behind Lance Berkman for the league lead.

Brandon McCarthy, Athletics: "He was terrific," A's manager Bob Melvin told the Associated Press of McCarthy after the righty fired a five-hitter over eight innings to shut out the Rays in a 8-0 victory. "He's been as consistent a guy as we've had." The former top prospect was dealt from Chicago to Texas, but was never able to deliver on his promise amid injuries. While he still has a shoulder issue that's flared up from time to time, he's sandwiched 16 starts in the year and has a 3.31 ERA to show for it. In five starts since the All-Star Game, he's given up just 10 runs. After limiting Tampa to no walks and five hits, pushing his K/BB on the year to 74/16, it's time to take McCarthy seriously.

Neftali Feliz, Rangers: Feliz gave up three of four runs in a ninth-inning rally for Cleveland, with Texas' own last gasp in the bottom of the frame going for naught, scoring one run en route to a 7-5 loss. Feliz has been shaky all season, and the Rangers importing two top setup men spoke volumes about how secure the brass feels the late innings are down south. Feliz was able to register two outs, but didn't strike out anyone en route to giving up three hits and three earned runs, getting into trouble immediately in the inning and being gifted an out in the form of a sacrifice bunt that eventually led to the inning's first run. Feliz has a 3.64 ERA, but he's pitched worse than that, and the Rangers have to be looking forward to getting him into the rotation next season.

Adam Dunn, White Sox: At this point, it's bordering on abuse to keep slotting Adam Dunn in 3 Down. But what is one supposed to do, when Dunn consistently is one of the worst players to step on a field? At least those who can't hit a lick provide value on defense or baserunning. What exactly does Dunn provide value with? It was supposed to be hitting, but Dunn is having a season for the ages (in a not-good way) and whiffed three times against the Twins on Sunday in four hitless trips to the plate, sinking what already seems to be an unsinkable line to .163/.294/.302. Look, we get that Dunn needs to keep playing. He needs to hit for Chicago to do well, and there's a lot of years and money left on his deal, But does Ozzie Guillen really need to bat him cleanup?

Livan Hernandez, Nationals: Two home runs -- both solo shots in the bottom of the fourth -- were bad enough for Livan Hernandez, but he ended up letting seven other runs cross the plate, giving up nine all told. Sure, two runs were unearned, but that's still a lot of bad pitching in 3 2/3 innings, with the ageless pitcher giving up nine hits against zero strikeouts and walks. That's how you know you've got nothing, and Colorado hitters enjoyed teeing off Hernandez, whose ERA rose to 4.41. The 36-year-old has had several poor starts in his most recent outings, and one has to wonder if he's running out of gas.

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

Posted on: August 6, 2011 8:40 pm

Report: Ortiz upset at lack of contract talks


By Evan Brunell

A source close to David Ortiz told ESPN Deportes that the Red Sox DH is privately unhappy that Boston has not approached him with a contract extension.

"David is (too) proud and respectful to say how he feels in public, but the guy feels hurt, upset by the way that he is being ignored by the Red Sox," said the source, in a repeat of a sentiment voiced each of the past few seasons, when Ortiz's future has not been guaranteed with the Red Sox.

"After all he's done here and having a good season, he was at least hoping to be approached by the team to talk about his future," the source said.

Ortiz entered Sunday with a .289/.378/.537 line, enjoying his beast season since 2007. He will be a free agent after the year, working with the Red Sox on a club option year, having completed his four-year, $52 million deal after 2010. In both 2009 and 2010, stories popped up about Big Papi's displeasure with his contract situation. This year is no different, and more dire now that he has no safety net beyond the year.

"The truth is yes and no," Ortiz said before Saturday's game as to whether he was hurt by the lack of discussions. "Yes, because I should be facing a better situation when I'm having a good year. And no because at some point something has to happen and those are things that I can't control."

Ortiz, who has stated in the past he would like to retire with the Red Sox, said no discussions have taken place this season and he is unsure why.

"I don't know what to say exactly about that. It's a question that I get often, and I don't know what to say," Ortiz said. "Maybe they are focusing on something different. ... This sport is a business above all. People know what I can do. Right now I don't see myself in another uniform, but that's not up to me. It will be decided in free agency."

All due respect to Ortiz, it makes no sense for Boston to sign an extension right now. Although Big Papi is enjoying his best season since 2007, he's not all that far off from experiencing a similar year to 2010, when he was a complete zero in April. The year before, he struggled through April and May before kicking into a groove. There's no reason for the Red Sox to get hasty and commit years and dollars to an aging DH who has shown chinks in his armor in recent seasons. If he keeps up his production through the year, the Red Sox will certainly be interested in bringing the slugger back for another year or two. But Ortiz needs to wait until then.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Category: MLB
Posted on: August 6, 2011 5:55 pm
Edited on: August 6, 2011 5:56 pm

From lucky to unlucky: Astros option J.A. Happ


By Evan Brunell

The Astros, fed up with J.A. Happ's struggles, optioned the starting pitcher to Triple-A in the hopes his head can get screwed on straight.

Happ was the biggest piece in the deal for Roy Oswalt at the trade deadline of 2010, with GM Ed Wade getting bedazzled by Happ's 18-8 record in 2009-10, compiled with a 3.09 ERA in 253 1/3 innings scattered over 39 starts and 12 relief appearances. That was a house of cards, though. Happ's performance came with 189 strikeouts and 103 walks, giving up 28 homers and allowing just 26.9 of batting averages fall into play, with league average at 29-31 percent at the time.

Advanced ERA-scaled metrics, xFIP in this instance, said the lefty's ERA over that time frame should have been 4.50. Yet, the Phillies -- who eschew sabermetrics yet have stayed in contention despite occasional bizarre decisions -- knew Happ was overrated and sent him packing at his highest value along with two minor leaguers at the 2010 trade deadline for Roy Oswalt. Happ pitched solidly down the stretch for Houston, but those who noticed knew that 2011 was unlikely to be kind.

Indeed. In fact, 2011 has been so unkind that he's underrated, at least compared to ERA and xFIP, which counts only those runs that have been considered at direct fault to to pitchers, where the 28-year-old remains a 4.50-type pitcher. xFIP has held steady in evaluating Happ's performance thus far this year, but he's been lit up over 22 starts for a 6.26 ERA, with his last four starts especially bad, giving up 22 runs, 19 earned for a 8.84 ERA in 19 1/3 innings.

Now, he'll ply his trade in the minor leagues, trying to get back on tract. Unless he makes an unforeseen leap forward, though, Happ remains what he's been all along: a solid back-of-the-rotation starter.

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

Category: MLB
Posted on: August 6, 2011 3:37 pm
Edited on: August 6, 2011 4:06 pm

Jurrjens on DL for Braves; Minor called up

By Evan Brunell

JurrjensJair Jurrjens has hit the DL with a right knee strain, causing the Braves to call up Mike Minor to start Sunday against the Mets.

There's been no hint of injury to Jurrjens, but he did struggle in his last start by giving up five runs in five innings. The right-hander had surgery on his knee last October for a torn meniscus, which may hint to a flare-up. Jurrjens has a 2.63 ERA in 20 starts and made his first All-Star Game last month.

He's being replaced by top prospect Mike Minor, who has already made six starts as a fill-in this season, albeit with a 4.59 ERA. The lefty is a big part of Atlanta's future, and he can be reasonably counted on to hold his own in the majors. For Triple-A, he had a 3.13 ERA in 16 starts covering 100 2/3 innings.

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

Posted on: August 6, 2011 1:32 pm
Edited on: August 6, 2011 1:47 pm

Brandon Webb has rotator cuff surgery

By Evan Brunell

WebbBrandon Webb had rotator cuff surgery on Wednesday, the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram reports. Webb will begin rehabbing in six weeks after the operation performed by Dr. Keith Meister.

Webb experienced a setback in trying to return from right shoulder surgery performed in 2009 after he left Opening Day with the injury. Webb has yet to return to the majors since and with this latest surgery, his career could be in jeopardy. The 32-year-old was once a devastating pitcher, winning the Cy Young Award in 2006 and placing second each of the next two years. Over that time period, he had a 56-25 record and 3.13 ERA in a massive 698 innings over 101 starts.

Webb signed as a free agent with Texas in the offseason after leaving Arizona. He was expected to be ready for Opening Day but will now have to worry about his career, not his 2011 season.

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

Posted on: August 6, 2011 1:15 pm

Sale to stay in bullpen, Humber spot in jeopardy?

White Sox

By Evan Brunell

Any hope for Chris Sale fans that he might collect a few starts before the end of the season has now completely vanished, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.

‘‘I think [general manager] Kenny [Williams] wants him to be a starter next year, but I don’t think we should [start him this year],’’ manager Ozzie Guillen said of Sale, who was drafted in 2010 and made the majors the same year as a reliever. ‘‘I want to win a couple more games. I don’t care if I’m in last place or not, I’m going to play every day to win. I might see one guy here or there, but my job is to win games."

The White Sox have lost seven of their last 10 and has slipped to 6 1/2 games out of first place. Still not insurmountable, especially if the club catches fire in a weak division, but the days are growing shorter. Still, Guillen isn't prepared to give up chasing the postseason, and Sale, at least for 2011, is best utilized in relief. He's gone thre innings a few times, so his endurance hasn't waned. In 51 innings, he's struck out 53 and walked 19, registering a 2.82 ERA and three saves. Yet, Guillen didn't completely discount starting Sale, even if he opened up the discussion by discounting it.

‘‘Obviously, if we get to that position [where we’re out of it], I’ll give the kids a chance. In the meanwhile, I’m not going to go out there and throw everything away. I don’t know what exactly they have planned next year for this kid. I think we should prepare him in spring training and the offseason.’’

Sale is expected to be a member of a rotation in 2012 that could have as many as three new members. One member whose spot could be in danger is Phil Humber, the unheralded minor-league free agent signing and former trade chip in the Johan Santana deal. Humber broke through this season for pitching coach Don Cooper and the ChiSox after flailing in Minnesota and Kansas City. In a new AL Central town, Humber forced his way into the rotation as a permanent member by posting a 2.69 ERA over 103 2/3 innings. He made the White Sox arrange their rotation into six members once Jake Peavy was healthy, then greased the skids for an Edwin Jackson trade. Yet, over his last four starts, he has a 7.97 ERA. Is it ineffectiveness or hitting a wall, with a major-league high 124 innings? He has reached139 innings as a minor-league high and at least 118 a season down on the farm over the last four years, so one might think he should have more endurance than this.

‘‘Minor-league innings, that is [crap],’’ Guillen said. ‘‘That is nothing. Minor-league innings compared to here [in the big leagues], I think it’s double because you have to grind it out every pitch. In the minor leagues, you get away with two, three, four guys in the lineup, and you mess around. In the big leagues, every pitch, you got to be on it.

‘‘But he threw the ball good [Thursday], especially the way those guys were hitting. The last time [against the Boston Red Sox], he hit the wall [after holding the Sox to one hit through four innings]. [Thursday], he threw the ball pretty good.’’

The White Sox will give Humber every chance to snap out of his slump to see if he can be a legitimate option for next season, but if the White Sox fall out of the race and Humber continues to skid, Sale may yet make it into the rotation.

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

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