Posted on: September 6, 2010 9:52 am

'Rally Thong' sparks Giants

Aubrey Huff There are certain things that maybe should just stay in the clubhouse. Not for the sanctity of the clubhouse or anything like that -- no, instead just because I'm not sure I wanted to know them. But since I do know it -- now you have to as well.

So, thanks to Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News , you will have this picture in your head, too. The Giants' Aubrey Huff is wearing a red thong. A lacy one. One Baggarly says he walks around the clubhouse wearing and sports  during interviews -- with no accompaniment.

"We're 3-1 with it," he yelled after Saturday's victory. "I might never get a hit the rest of the year, though."

Huff said it's the team's lucky thong -- not his own. The team improved to 4-1 with the thong after Sunday's victory over the Dodgers. The thing is, it's not helping Huff. He's just 2 for 19 in the thong's five games.

"It's the Rally Thong," Huff told Baggarly after Sunday's game . "It's not a slump thong. If I was wearing it to break a slump, I would've burned it a long time ago."

Huff was 1 for 4 on Sunday, with a double. He's hitting .200 in 24 games since Aug. 8.

"This is a team thing," Huff said. "When I broke it out [Tuesday], we had 30 games left. I said, 'Guys, here's 20 wins right here.'"

The Giants are now just a game behind the Padres -- who could use a Rally Thong themselves, losing 10 straight. I doubt that this catches on like the Rally Monkey, and for that, I'm grateful.

But a word of advice to the Padres if they're thinking about stealing this superstition --  the rose goes in front, big guy.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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Category: MLB
Posted on: August 31, 2010 3:38 pm
Edited on: August 31, 2010 4:42 pm

Skidding Padres could lose grip on NL West

Mat Latos With seven wins in their last eight tries, the Rockies suddenly find themselves seven games out of the division and just 3 1/2 games behind the Phillies for the wild card.

Seven games may seem like a lot of ground for the Rockies to make up, but the Padres have been skidding as of late, losing five in a row which has allowed the Giants to stay in the hunt (1 1/2 games out of the wild card, five out of the division) and the Rockies to catch up.

The Dodgers also consider themselves in the wild card race (5 1/2 games out, 9 out in the division), which should make September a very interesting month.

A late-season surge by Colorado is nothing new, but compound that with San Diego's slide and it's entirely possible the Padres could end up on the outside looking in during the postseason.

A big stretch to say for a team with a seven-game cushion? OK, perhaps the Mets have spoiled us all with late-season collapses, but the Padres certainly appear a team with a tenuous grasp on first place.

For starters, despite the team's success, this is still a team who was projected by many to finish dead last in the standings. There were reasons for that, ranging from an anemic offense to an unimpressive crew of starters behind phenom Mat Latos.

And all those still exist, obscured by a lockdown bullpen and the acquisitions of Miguel Tejada and Ryan Ludwick. Those two acquisitions have gone a long way to upgrade San Diego's offense from mediocre to passable, but the bread and butter of October success -- starting pitching -- is still questionable as to how effective it can be, not just in October but down the stretch.

While the Padres lead baseball in xFIP with a 3.86 mark, they also have one of the largest splits between xFIP and ERA, with ERA checking in at 3.33 which also paces baseball. That ERA has slowly risen as the year has gone on, regressing to the mean. The pitching is no longer hiding any warts.

Ace Mat Latos (pictured) is already comfortably past the amount of increased inning restrictions teams tend to put on young pitchers. Latos could run out of gas at some point or get injured, whether in September or October as it's a dangerous bit of ground the Padres are currently navigating with the righty. Clayton Richard is another young pitcher who is extending his innings pitched beyond normal thresholds, on top of being a pitcher with disparity between his ERA and xFIP.

Then you have Jon Garland, a veteran pitching way over his head and two additional young pitchers with innings-pitched and effectiveness complications. It's easy to see how things could completely blow up in the Padres' face, having to shut down young pitchers and seeing massive regression from all overperformers to date.

It's quite unlikely for a perfect storm of regression to suddenly rear its head, but even a small amount of regression, as we're seeing currently, could be enough to drop the Padres into a NL West/wild card battle.

-- Evan Brunell

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Posted on: August 30, 2010 11:22 pm

Empty seats in Tampa, Cincinnati

Jay Bruce Playoff fever has apparently not caught on in at least two first-place cities -- Tampa and Cincinnati.

Monday night the Rays drew 11,968 against the Blue Jays at Tropicana Field, while the Reds had just 14,589 at Great American Ball Park for the start of a series against the Brewers.

The Rays' crowd was the third-smallest of the season in Tampa, while the Reds' smattering of fans was its fewest since June 9

Another first-place team, the Atlanta Braves, weren't that much better, getting 18,842 for their game with the Mets.

The Yankees were the other first-place team at home on Monday and they had 46,356 at their game against the A's.

The Reds are 19th in the big leagues in average attendance at 25,897 -- but that is up more than 4,000 people a game over 2009, when the team averaged 21,579 per contest.

Tampa Bay is averaging 22,941 per game, a tad below its 23,147 average last season.

San Diego is also in first place and the Padres are 20th in attendance, with 25,843 per game. Atlanta is averaging 30,545 per contest this season, 14th in the majors.

A lot of places had school start on Monday, but there'll be school in session Tuesday and with Aroldis Chapman coming up in Cincinnati, don't expect another sparse crowd at Great American Ball Park.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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Category: MLB
Posted on: August 28, 2010 2:43 pm

Padres super sub Hairston to DL

Jerry Hairston
San Diego's list of walking wounded continues to grow, and Saturday the Padres placed Jerry Hairston Jr. on the disabled list with an elbow ligament strain. He's been feeling pain in his right elbow for six weeks, but only in recent days has it gotten to the point where he doesn't think he can play at all. An MRI exam showed no structural damage.

"It's progressively gotten worse ... I've tried to fight through it," Hairston told MLB.com Friday. "We'll just rest it and it will get better."

Hairston isn't at the top of the depth chart at any position for the first-place Padres, but he's started 102 games at five different positions, giving the team valuable versatility. He's been key covering for shortstop Everth Cabrera during two trips to the DL, and when second baseman David Eckstein missed a month.

The 34-year-old is batting just .249 but has kicked in 50 RBIs and hit a career-high 10 homers. The Padres have not yet announced a corresponding roster move, but one possibility is that Cabrera, who lost his job to Miguel Tejada, will be coming back from Triple-A.

The Padres lost center fielder Tony Gwynn to season-ending hand surgery a week ago, and his replacement, Chris Denorfia, sat out Friday with a leg cramp. On the bright side, Oscar Salazar, who has missed 27 games with an Achilles strain, could be back this weekend.

-- David Andriesen

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Posted on: August 26, 2010 6:22 pm

Rangers interested in Manny, not Hawpe

The White Sox apparently aren't the only team with interest in Manny Ramirez. MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan reports the Rangers are "mulling the possibility of talking to the Dodgers" about Ramirez.

A club official, though, does tell Sullivan it's "unlikely" the Rangers will get Ramirez and predicts Ramirez will end the season with the Dodgers.

The White Sox have made little secret of their interest in Ramirez and are ahead of the Rangers on the waiver wire. Ramirez was reportedly placed on waivers on Wednesday, teams would then have until Friday to put in a claim on Ramirez. The White Sox and Dodgers have reportedly already started talks about a trade of Ramirez.

National League clubs will have first priority on Ramirez, but his outfield play makes that unlikely.

Ramirez has a no-trade clause and could kill any trade.

Sullivan also notes the Rangers are not interested in free agent Brad Hawpe. Hawpe cleared waivers on Thursday and became a free agent. The Padres are reportedly interested in Hawpe. He could also draw interest from the Red Sox or Rays.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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Posted on: August 25, 2010 2:48 pm
Edited on: August 25, 2010 2:49 pm

Astros claim Giants' Downs on waivers

The Astros have become a beneficiary of the Giants' waiver claim on Cody Ross.

The Giants, who are collecting outfielders like bobblehead dolls, claimed Ross to block the first-place Padres, who need a center fielder. Their bluff got called by the Marlins, who decided to let the Giants pick up the rest of Ross' salary.

In order to make room on their 40-man roster for Ross, the Giants had to designate infielder Matt Downs for assignement, which meant he had to go through waivers. The Astros snatched him up Wednesday. Downs, 26, hasn't done much in limited big-league action, but he's batting .280 with some power at Triple-A. He's mostly a second baseman, but has played everywhere except catcher and center field, making him a solid utility possibility.

-- David Andriesen

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Posted on: August 23, 2010 8:32 pm
Edited on: August 24, 2010 12:22 am

Are Manny's Dodger days numbered?

Manny Ramirez Manny Ramirez hasn't been put through waivers yet, according to multiple reports, but he will be put on waivers soon.

After that happens, there are two interesting questions:

1. Will he be claimed?

2. If not, would the Dodgers release him?

Ramirez, despite all his well-chronicled deficiencies and idiosyncrasies, can still flat-out hit. At 38, he's hitting .312/.404/.508 with eight homers and 39 RBI in 223 plate appearances.

While at first glance, acquiring someone making $20 million this season would seem cost-prohibitive. However, his base salary is only $5 million and any team that acquired him would owe roughly $1.1 million for the rest of the season and then part of the remaining three deferred payments for the remainder of his salary. That could be roughly $3.3 million, give or take.

So who would be interested? He'd be a perfect fit back in the American League for any team searching for some extra pop down the stretch -- think the Rays, White Sox or maybe even the Rangers or Yankees.
However, he's available to National League teams first -- could a team like the Braves or Padres take a chance on him and make him a high-priced pinch hitter?

A National League executive tells CBSSports.com that he expects Ramirez to be claimed by an American League team. Another big league source expects Ramirez to clear waivers, but then have a trade work out, noting the $4 million pricetag for one month of a designated hitter as being just too much to handle. If Ramirez is claimed as a blocking move, the Dodgers would likely let the claiming team just have him -- but that comes with one big if.

Ramirez has a full no-trade clause. If he's claimed, he can still block a move. If clears waivers, would the Dodgers just release him? He's no longer the draw he once was and the Dodgers aren't doing anything but playing out the string. It's certainly possible, but it's unlikely he'd be out of a job too long.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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Posted on: August 23, 2010 6:18 pm
Edited on: October 19, 2010 12:12 pm

This week in free stuff: Aug. 23-29

A look at this week in promotional giveaways from around baseball:

Monday, Aug. 23
Florida Marlins -- cam floppy hat. It's a floppy hat, but nobody can see you.
Hudson Valley Renegades (New York-Penn League) -- mystery bobblehead. The team website doesn't say what the bobblehead will be, just that if you're one of the first 1,500 into the park, you'll get one.

Tuesday, Aug. 24
Carlos Ruiz Philadelphia Phillies -- Carlos Ruiz Bobble figurine. I guess it's a "figurine" because it's smaller. But it still looks pretty cool.
Los Angeles Angels -- fleece blanket. My dog loves his SGA (eBay lingo for stadium giveaway) fleece blankets.
Las Vegas 51s (Pacific Coast League) Holly Madison bobblehead. Yeah, it's the head that bobbles. I think they missed a good opportunity there.
Binghamton Mets (Eastern League) -- plunger. Really, just what it says. Hey, you probably need a plunger more than a bobblehead.

Wednesday, Aug. 25
Buffalo Bisons (International League) -- Fernando Martinez bobblehead. Martinez his hitting .253/.317/.455 with 12 homers, 33 RBI and 4,000 bobbleheads.
Trenton Thunder (Eastern League) -- back-to-school notebooks. Who couldn't use a notebook for school? Or do kids still use those?
Binghamton Mets (Eastern League) -- sling bag giveaway. The classic, jersey look. Again, a good, practical giveaway.

Thursday, Aug. 26
Springfield Cardinals (Texas League) -- winter cap
Hudson Valley Renegades (New York-Penn League) -- dog leash. The first 500 dogs get a gift, not their people. My dog would prefer to be let off the leash instead of a new one.

Friday, Aug. 27
Ichiro bobblehead Seattle Mariners -- Ichiro bobblehead. I don't currently have an Ichiro in my bobblehead collection -- maybe if I just knew someone in Seattle.
Syracuse Chiefs (International League) -- Stephen Strasburg action figure
New Hampshire Fisher Cats (Eastern League) -- frisbee
West Michigan Whitecaps (Midwest League) -- Frank Howard bobblehead. The former Tiger will be at the park for his bobblehead night.
Brooklyn Cyclones (New York-Penn League) -- Ron Darling bobblehead
Vermont Lake Monster (New York-Penn League) -- Mystery bobblehead. I'll be interested to know if it's new, or just old stuff they had in the storage room.
Yakima Bears (Northwest League) -- Mel Stottlemyre bobblehead
Greeneville Astros (Appalachian League) -- blanket

Saturday, Aug. 28
Los Angeles Angels -- candy jar. The Angels have had some of my favorite promotions this year, and this is another winner.
Texas Rangers -- t-shirt. Classic baseball style with red sleeves and a white base. It's for kids only, so it'll make some emo college kid happy.
Washington Nationals -- Ivan Rodriguez bobblehead
Colorado Rockies -- coffee tumbler. I still use my Dan Haren A's tumbler.
San Diego Padres -- Everth Cabrera bobblehead
San Francisco Giants -- Joe DiMaggio SF Seals bobblehead
Bowling Green Hot Rods (Midwest League) Cave Shrimp bobble-tail. So, the Hot Rods ran a contest to name the team. Hot Rods, obviously, won. Cave Shrimp was another entry and this is the "What Could Have Been" promotion. I may have to eBay this badboy..
Tulsa Drillers (Texas League) -- ONEOK Field replica
Visalia Rawhide (California League) -- reusable grocery bags
Quad Cities River Bandits (A) Matt Holliday bobblehead
Everett AquaSox (Norhtwest League) -- Ryan Rowland-Smith bobblehead
Idaho Falls Chukars (Rookie Appalachian League) -- Billy Butler bobblehead.

Sunday, Aug. 29
CC Sabathia Milwaukee Brewers -- CC Sabathia bobblehead day. I'm not exactly sure why the Brewers are honoring a guy who pitched 17 games for them, but oh well. It's a cool looking bobblehead.
Toronto Blue Jays -- Dave Stieb bobblehead
Chicago White Sox -- Frank Thomas Bobblehead
Texas Rangers -- kids chest protector backpack
San Diego Padres -- metal lunch box
Inland Empire 66ers (California League) -- Dodgers fleece blanket
Stockton Ports (California) -- Ports mini basketball and hoop set
Beloit Snappers (Midwest League) -- Ben Revere bobblehead

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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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