Tag:Carl Crawford
Posted on: June 3, 2011 9:55 am
Edited on: June 3, 2011 10:40 am
 

Pepper: Sabean over the top in his comments



By C. Trent Rosecrans
 

BASEBALL TODAY: CBSSports.com senior writer Danny Knobler joins Lauren Shehadi to discuss the chances of the Marlins, Brewers and Diamondbacks sticking around all season.

SABEAN OUT OF LINE: Buster Posey's injury is the story that just won't die -- and it flared up again on Thursday when Giants general manager Brian Sabean ripped Scott Cousins on a San Francisco radio station.

Sabean intimated there would be some sort of retaliation the next time the Giants saw the Marlins' Cousins. For a general manager to imply his team would be looking to hurt another player is irresponsible and reprehensible -- especially when Cousins played within the rules. You can bet Bud Selig will be making a call to Sabean and there will plenty of eyes on the Giants when they head to Florida Aug. 12-14.

Not only were Sabean's comments unprofessional, they're also hypocritical. Baseball Prospectus' Larry Granillo takes a look at Pablo Sandoval's similar play last season against the Pirates, and also a play from 2006 which was worse that happened to the Giants' Todd Greene, but caused no public outrage from Sabean.

Cousins' agent, Matt Sosnick, answered, saying his client has already gotten death threats, which probably won't be helped with Sabean flaming the fire. He also noted Cousins feels terrible about hurting Posey.

"The fact that Posey got hurt is terrible and everyone feels terribly about it," Sosnick told Andrew Baggerly of the San Jose Mercury News. "No one feels worse, outside of Posey, than Scott did. But it's over. The play was within the rules; it was a fair, legitimate play. There’s no way Scott could know in the heat of the moment if there was a sliding lane of not.

"It was legal in baseball. He helped his team. The fact someone got injured on the play stinks.

"I understand Sabean is upset about it. Based on the fact that I know he’s a good guy, I am really hoping that he was speaking in the heat of the moment and out of emotion. Because if he wasn't, he took a bad situation and certainly made it a lot worse."

WEBB SHUT DOWN: Rangers pitcher Brandon Webb felt discomfort in his right shoulder in a bullpen session on Thursday and is being shut down. He has been prescribed anti-inflammatories and will be shut down for a minimum of seven days. (MLB.com)

9 TEAMS VIOLATE DEBT RULES: We all knew the Dodgers and Mets were in financial trouble, but they're apparently not alone. According to a Los Angeles Times report, a total of nine of the 30 teams are in violation of the MLB debt service rules which limit team's debt levels to 10 times its annual earnings. The guilty teams are a mix of big and small market teams -- the Mets, Dodgers, Orioles, Cubs, Tigers, Marlins, Phillies, Rangers and Nationals.

DRAFT BONANZA: While the Rays may have more picks than anyone else in next week's draft, the Diamondbacks have the most valuable picks. In one of the deepest drafts in years, Arizona has a chance to pick up two impact players, drafting No. 3 and No. 7 overall. (Arizona Republic)

Yankees' MISSED OPPORTUNITY: UCLA right-hander Gerrit Cole may be the top pick (or at least in the top three) next week, but it won't be the first time he's drafted in the first round. The Yankees took him in 2008, but he decided to go to UCLA instead. (New York Daily News)

WRIGHT, WILPON OK: David Wright finally spoke to Mets owner (for now) Fred Wilpon and said "all is well." Wright is one of the players Wilpon criticized in a New Yorker article. (New York Post)

Things should continue to be good with Wright and Wilpon, because it's unlikely he's going anywhere. Earlier this week there were rumors Wright may be moved, but the New York Daily News reports Wright's option for 2013 is team-specific, meaning only the Mets could exercise it. Any other team would risk losing Wright to free agency following the 2012 season. Anyway, it doesn't make much sense to sell low on Wright right now anyway, so expect him to stay with the Mets.

JETER WATCH: Derek Jeter currently has 2,984 hits and he acknowledges he feels a bit of a "responsibility" to reach 3,000 at Yankee Stadium. At his current pace, he'd get hit 3,000 at Wrigley Field in Chicago against the Cubs on June 18. Oddly enough, another Yankee had a chance at a milestone at Wrigley Field recently -- Roger Clemens' third shot at his 300th win was at Wrigley Field in June, 2003, but he lost that game. He won in his next start -- at Yankee Stadium against the Cardinals. The Yankees have a 10-game homestead from June 7-16 before going to Chicago for three and Cincinnati for three, returning home on June 24. Selfishly, I'd love to see Jeter go for 3,000 in Cincinnati, just so I could see it in person. It'd be more fitting for him to get it in New York, though. (New York Daily News)

DISAPPOINTMENTS: What do Ubaldo Jimenez, Chris Carpenter, Adam Dunn, Albert Pujols and Carl Crawford have in common? Well, they're all rich. Besides that, they're also on SI.com's Joe Sheehan's All-Disappointment Team. I'd take all five of those guys in a heartbeat. They're a discappointment because they haven't lived up to their own high standards so far, all five have the ability to turn it around in a heartbeat.

GRITTY AND GUTTY: Sure, these gifts are a little too prized by old-timers and not prized enough by new-school thinkers. Whatever their worth, those kind of players are fun to watch -- and the Padres have one in Chris Denorfia. As a personal note, Denorfia is one of the really good guys in the game and I'm glad to see him doing well. (San Diego Tribune-Review)

HARPER SHINES, STRUGGLES: In one game, Bryce Harper showed exactly why he's too good for the South Atlantic League, but also not quite ready to be called up to the next level. In addition to a walk-off homer, Harper fell victim to the old fake-to-third-throw-to-first move and was also caught in a rundown. (Washington Post)

CURE FOR THE CURSE? The Cubs are 5-0 in throwback uniforms -- now if they'd just wear them all the time… (BleedCubbieBlue.com)

FOR THE SNEAKERHEADS: Move over Brian Wilson, Orioles pitcher Jeremy Guthrie has the coolest spikes on the planet. Guthrie has a pair of Air Jordan I spikes that are just plain awesome. (NikeBlog.com)

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

Posted on: June 1, 2011 3:45 pm
Edited on: June 1, 2011 4:03 pm
 

AL All-Star balloting update: Bautista tops all



By Matt Snyder


Tuesday, Major League Baseball unveiled the first update on the All-Star balloting for the National League, so Wednesday we found out the American League update. Needless to say, non-Yankees fans won't be happy, but we'll get to that in a second. The big story is that the fans nailed the top overall vote-getter (that goes for both leagues). Jose Bautista of the Blue Jays leads the majors in runs, home runs, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, OPS, OPS-plus and total bases. You can add top vote-getter to the list for now, because he's gathered 1,261,659 votes. If this holds, he'd become the first Blue Jays player ever to receive the most votes and the first to start the game since Carlos Delgado in 2003.

As things stand now, here are the would-be AL starters: Russell Martin, Mark Teixeira, Robinson Cano, Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Curtis Granderson -- yes, those are actually the leaders in votes; I didn't accidentally start listing the Yankees' starters -- Jose Bautista, Josh Hamilton and Michael Young (DH).

So, yeah. Six Yankees starters if this was the final version. Here are some observations:

- Asdrubal Cabrera trails Jeter by about 260,000 votes at short. I guess I'm not shocked for several reasons. First of all, the voting began pretty early in the season and Cabrera was a relative unknown when it started. Secondly, you have Jeter and the whole chase for 3,000 hits thing going on. Third, it's the Yankees. If this is a lifetime achievement thing, OK, but if we're looking at just 2011, it's egregious. Cabrera's been the big offensive force for the most surprising team in baseball -- one that has the best record in the AL.

- Teixeira's having a big power year and him starting the game wouldn't be completely undeserved, but I'd rather go with Adrian Gonzalez or Miguel Cabrera there. If you have a problem with Cabrera's off-field issues in the spring, well, vote for Gonzalez or Tex.

- Third could shape up to be a real good battle between A-Rod, Adrian Beltre and Kevin Youkilis -- who were all probably helped by the injury to Evan Longoria.

- Martin is the correct selection behind the plate. Oh, and Joe Mauer's second in voting (tsk, tsk).

- Granderson certainly deserves to start and Cano probably does as well. So Yankees haters need to lay off these guys.

- The outfield voting isn't awesome, that's for sure. Hamilton has been hurt most of the season and sits third. Matt Joyce isn't even in the top 15, nor are Carlos Quentin, Adam Jones, Michael Brantley or Alex Gordon. But Ichiro Suzuki, Nelson Cruz and Carl Crawford are all in contention.

View the full voting results by clicking here.

There are obviously a lot more issues, but it's the initial ballot release and many of the votes were cast when it was released without having a good grasp of how the 2011 season would turn out. Fortunately, there's still time to support your guys and rectify any problems you might have. Voting doesn't end until the end of June.

Click here to cast an online ballot.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: May 28, 2011 11:10 am
Edited on: May 28, 2011 7:26 pm
 

On Deck: Last chance for Weaver

OD

By Matt Snyder


Full slate of games Saturday, as there are on every Saturday, starting with the Pirates-Cubs and Padres-Nationals at 1:05 p.m. ET. Let's dive in.

Last chance: It's been a tale of two months for Jered Weaver of the Angels. He left April 6-0 with a 0.99 ERA. In May, he's 0-4 with a 4.35 ERA. He hasn't been awful -- three of his six outings were quality starts and last time out he allowed just one run in seven innings -- but he's been worse and gotten little run support. Saturday, he'll take the ball for the last time in May and he's looking to avoid going winless in month No. 2 after winning every single game in month No. 1. Fortunately for Weaver, his opponent is the punchless Twins, who are dead last in runs scored in the entire MLB and last in the AL in on-base percentage. Meanwhile, scheduled Twins starter Francisco Liriano has been scratched and the Twins will instead run Anthony Swarzak out there in his place. Swarzak is 0-2 with a 7.71 ERA and this is only his second start of the season. Basically, things look good for Weaver, but he still has to produce. Los Angeles (AL) at Minnesota, 7:10 p.m. ET.  WATCH LIVE SCORING

Tall order for Tribe: For the second time this season, the Indians have lost three straight games. A loss Saturday would mean the longest losing streak of the season for the Tribe -- who have been the best team and best story of the young 2011 season. Last time they lost three games in a row, they followed it up with seven consecutive victories. If they plan to start a similar streak, it's a tall order Saturday against the Rays. Toeing the rubber for the Rays will be James Shields, he of the 2.00 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, 73 strikeouts, three complete games and two shutouts. The Indians did see Shields earlier this month, and he held them to two runs in seven innings in a 7-4 Rays win. Considering the Indians have only scored four runs in the past three games, breaking the losing streak won't be easy. Cleveland at Tampa Bay, 4:10 p.m. ET.  FINAL BOX SCORE

Red hot Red Sox: Remember how all the naysayers wanted to bury the Red Sox several times early in the season? Well, they're 15-4 in their past 19 games and are now in sole possession of first place in the AL East for the first time. In their current four-game winning streak, they've outscored opponents 38-8. It's been a team effort from top to bottom, but Carl Crawford's emergence as, well, Carl Crawford has been a huge boost for the offense. His numbers for the week so far: 11-19 (.579 average), two doubles, two triples, three home runs, eight RBI, nine runs and a 1.987 OPS. Attempting to slow him and the rest of the hot Red Sox offense will be Andrew Oliver of the Tigers, who is 0-4 with a 7.36 ERA in five career starts. This will be his first since July 18 of last season, too. Boston at Detroit, 7:10 p.m. ET. WATCH LIVE SCORING

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: May 27, 2011 1:00 pm
Edited on: May 27, 2011 1:29 pm
 

Breaking player slumps tough job for managers

By Matt Snyder

Just over a week after saying he would leave Adam Dunn in the three-hole, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen has now dropped Dunn to seventh in the batting order. It's pretty tough to blame him, from a certain point of view.

Dunn is hitting .186 with an incredible 65 strikeouts in 156 at-bats. He's only hit five home runs. Even his traditionally-high on-base percentage is a sub-par .314.

The flip-side, however, is that Dunn has been one of the most consistent power hitters of the past decade. Scoff if you will -- there's a stigma that comes with Dunn because of his high-strikeout, low-batting average rates -- but here are his home run totals from the past seven seasons: 46, 40, 40, 40, 40, 38, 38. He reached 100 RBI in six of those seasons, his OBP was .381 and OPS was .914. He also never played less than 152 games in a season. That's a really productive offensive player.

So, if you're Guillen, you have to expect Dunn to start hitting well any day now. There's just no reason to believe he's cooked at 31. Sure, he switched leagues, but any drop off shouldn't have been this drastic. It's just that if you leave him in the third spot of the lineup and he continues to pump out four-strikeout games, it's killing your team.

This situation is a good illustration of a very tough job for managers. Figuring out how to approach a guy in a huge slump is a delicate business. No matter what action is taken, there are lots of possible negative consequences.

Lineup movement happens a lot. The Marlins have moved Hanley Ramirez to second. The Red Sox dropped Carl Crawford to eighth -- and he's absolutely going off this week, finally.

Sometimes the DH is used. The White Sox have started to play Adam Dunn at first more often, in case playing defense keeps him more into the game. On the opposite end, the Yankees have used Derek Jeter at DH three times.

Do you start benching the guy? The Indians started Carlos Santana behind the plate only once in the three-game series against the Red Sox. Sometimes that helps to clear a player's head, but sometimes he becomes worried the manager has lost confidence in him and becomes a headcase. Look at the Jorge Posada situation in New York.

What about doing things out of the ordinary, strategically? Getting the hit-and-run sign could help. If a hitter knows he has to swing at the pitch, there's a big hole in the infield and he ends up making good contact for a base hit, sometimes that's the only mental boost he needs. The Marlins made an interesting decision with Ramirez Tuesday night. With a four-run lead in the top of the ninth, they had him lay down a sacrifice bunt. I actually have no idea how this will help him break out of a slump, but I guess they're breaking out all the stops.

Or you could just leave the guy alone. Charlie Manuel essentially did this with Raul Ibanez. He rarely sat out and only bounced between fifth and sixth in the order. Now Ibanez has gotten hot after a pretty sizable slump.

Most any blogger will tell you that the managers should just relax and wait for a regression to the mean. I understand that, but it's pretty easily said for a guy behind a computer whose job doesn't depend on wins and losses. Each win is precious, and the managers need players like Crawford, Ramirez, Dunn, Jeter, Ibanez and Santana to hit the ball. The longer they go before breaking out of a slump, the more chances there are the team loses more games. The longer the managers stick with the struggling big hitter in a major lineup spot, the more risk there is of leaving the table-setters on base multiple times every game. Dropping the hitter in the lineup or benching him might mean missed opportunities to break out of the slump, too.

It's quite the juggling act, and there is no one proven method that maximizes results -- probably because the mentality of hitting a baseball is immeasurable. It's pretty difficult to blame managers for trying to be proactive instead of just sitting back. Not when their job is constantly on the line.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: May 27, 2011 12:42 am
 

3 Up, 3 Down: Pitchers can hit too

Cliff Lee

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Ciff Lee, Phillies -- The day after Wilson Valdez showed position players could pitch, Cliff Lee showed pitchers can hit. Lee hit a single and double, driving in three runs in the Phillies' 10-4 victory over the Reds. While Lee wasn't especially sharp (by his standards) on the mound, he did what was most important for his team, stay on the mound. Following the 19-inning affair on Wednesday, Lee saved the team's bullpen by going eight innings on Thursday, despite giving up 10 hits and four runs. He did strike out eight batters and walked one.

Carlos Zambrano, Cubs -- Zambrano isn't your ordinary pitcher when he steps up to the plate, the guy knows what to do with the bat in his hand. Wednesday he went 3 for 3 with an RBI and a double. He'd also pinch-hit Tuesday night, driving in two, so he finished the series against New York 4 for 4 with three RBI. Oh, and he pitched six innings, allowing six hits and two runs, just one earned, while striking out five and walking two.

Carl Crawford, Red Sox -- Still worried about Crawford? Maybe not, especially after his last two days when he was 8 for 9 with two doubles, two triples and a home run. He was a triple shy of the cycle on Wednesday when he went 4 for 4, but made up for it with two triples on Thursday while going 4 for 5 with three RBI against the Indians. He entered May hitting .204/.227/.431 and is up to .277/.368/.645. Crawford's gonna be just fine.


Joel Piniero, Angels -- At least he's consistent. And honestly, he wasn't so bad. He went 6 1/3 innings and allowed four runs on 11 hits with no walks. In his last outing, he went 6 1/3 innings, allowing four runs on 11 hits with no walks. He did strike out one more batter than he did five days ago, three instead of two. The bad part is he lost both games.

Adam Dunn, White Sox -- Dunn took another collar on Thursday, striking out in all four of his plate appearances, including a K to end the eighth inning with a runner on third in a tie game. Dunn struck out three times against Toronto starter Brandon Morrow and then once against lefty Marc Rzepczynski. Dunn is now 0 for 33 with 15 strikeouts in 39 plate appearances against left-handers this season. Ozzie Guillen has said he'll move Dunn to seventh in Chicago's lineup on Friday.

Marc Rzepczynski, Blue Jays -- And speaking of Rzepczynski, the Jays left-hander may have gotten Dunn to end the eighth, but he picked up the loss with his work in the ninth. After third baseman John McDonald's error allowed Alex Rios to reach base and advance to second, Rzepczynski uncorked a wild pitch putting the go-ahead run on third. He followed that by hitting Gordon Beckham, setting the table for Juan Pierre. Pierre hit one down the line to first baseman Juan Rivera, who fielded the ball, but Rzepczynski wasn't able to beat Pierre to the bag. Rios scored easily on Pierre's grounder, but Beckham scored when Rivera's throw bounced off of the pitcher. 

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: May 26, 2011 1:55 am
 

3 Up, 3 Down: Crawford, Salty coming around



By Matt Snyder


Carl Crawford, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Red Sox. In a game where the Red Sox pounded the MLB-best Indians for 14 runs on 20 hits, two players stood out. They stood out because they had drastically fallen short of expectations offensively in the early going for their slow-starting team. Wednesday, though, may be a sign the worm is finally starting to turn for Crawford and Saltalamacchia. Crawford went 4-4 with two doubles, a home run, three runs and two RBI. Saltalamacchia went 2-4 with a homer, three RBI, two runs and a walk. Crawford's average is now a season-high .229 (and he's hitting .309 in May). He closes the three-game series in Cleveland 6-11 with two doubles and two home runs. Saltalamacchia, meanwhile, is eight for his last 21 with four home runs and seven RBI. He's even walked more times than he's struck out in that span, which is a great sign considering he had 24 strikeouts and four walks prior.

Brooks Conrad, Braves. The pinch hitter entered Wednesday with 31 plate appearances in 27 games. He was hitting just .130 with zero home runs and a .474 OPS. Yet in the top of the 11th against the Pirates, Conrad took Jeff Karstens deep for what proved to be the game-winning home run.

Erik Bedard, Mariners. The former ace is trying to prove that he's healthy and back on track. He's doing pretty much all you could ask after everything he's been through. Bedard worked six scoreless innings Wednesday night and picked up his third straight winning decision. Here's his line in his last five starts, which includes a 3-0 record: 33 IP, 28 K, 7 BB, 1.09 ERA, 0.85 WHIP. He's got a lot of season left, but this is why they invented an award called the Comeback Player of the Year.



Brandon Phillips, Reds. You know that 19-inning loss the Reds just suffered? The one where they emptied out their entire bullpen and completely abused Carlos Fisher's poor right arm? Yeah, the Reds shouldn't have had to do that. There were myriad reasons for this, but the most glaring was Phillips being picked off second base in the 11th. It was bad because he was picked off as the go-ahead run in a tie game. It was bad because white-hot Jay Bruce was on deck. It was bad because it happened in a stretch where the Reds drew three consecutive walks after Phillips was hit with a pitch. But it was completely unforgivable because Phillips was socializing with Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins when he was nabbed. Phillips wasn't even remotely paying attention when the throw got him by several feet. He's well-chronicled for having a lovable personality, but you can't have that in a professional. His job is to play baseball. To his credit, he knows it. He told reporters after the game he takes all the blame for the loss.

Justin Berg, Cubs. If you ever want a reason to pay more attention to stats other than ERA for relievers, check out this debacle. Berg relieved Casey Coleman with one out in the second inning and the bases loaded. Berg threw 12 pitches. Every single one of them was a ball. That means he walked the only three batters he faced, forcing in three runs. They were all charged to Coleman. Since James Russell came in and got out of the jam, none of Berg's baserunners scored. He was left with a line of zero innings, three walks and zero earned runs. And the Cubs lost by three.

Luke Hochevar, Royals. Obviously some credit has to be given to the Orioles for the eight run fourth inning -- and some blame has to be passed along to Alcides Escobar for an error that allowed the eighth run -- but Hochevar simply has to be better than this. After three scoreless innings, he let this happen in the fourth: Double, single, ground out, walk, double, walk (with a wild pitch), single, walk, single, single, pop out, throwing error, ground out. There wasn't even really a big blow.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: May 18, 2011 2:57 pm
 

Benoit out as setup man: Leave Rays at your peril

By Matt Snyder

The Detroit Tigers signed right-handed reliever Joaquin Benoit to a three-year, $16.5 million contract this past offseason to serve as their eighth-inning bridge to closer Jose Valverde.

In return, Benoit's provided them with three losses, a 7.98 ERA and 1.71 WHIP in 14 2/3 innings. He's been especially dreadful in his last six outings, having allowed 12 earned runs in five innings (that's a 21.60 ERA, in case you're wondering). In turn, the Tigers have made the decision to stop using him in setup situations, at least temporarily.

"He's an important piece of the puzzle," manager Jim Leyland said, "but we're going to have to look at it and figure something out. I'll have to figure out the strategic part." (MLB.com)

Anyway, the Benoit news got me thinking. The Rays lost of a good chunk of production from last season's 96-win AL East champions, and most of those guys seem to be struggling. It's not just the big names, either, it's almost everyone.

Check this out:

Carlos Pena -- Had a .457 OPS through May 2 with zero home runs and six RBI. He's been scorching hot since, but it's only gotten his line to right in line with where he was last season, which was by leaps and bounds his worst as a Ray.

Jason Bartlett -- .675 OPS last season, .617 this season.

Carl Crawford -- He's having a good May, but still has only gotten his OPS up to .524. Basically, he's on pace to have the worst year of his career by far.

Matt Garza -- He's actually pitched well, but weather, bad luck on balls in play, bad defense and poor run support have made sure that he's just 2-4 through nine starts.

Rafael Soriano -- The man who was probably the best closer in baseball last season is already hated by most Yankees fans due to his 5.40 ERA, several blown leads and indifferent attitude. And now he's got an elbow injury.

Lance Cormier -- In two years for the Rays, he had a 3.55 ERA. So far for the Dodgers? 8.71.

Benoit -- He had a 1.34 ERA and 75 strikeouts in 60 1/3 innings last year. See the intro for how this season is going.

Dan Wheeler -- 3.35 ERA and 46 strikeouts for the Rays in 48 1/3 innings last season. This year he's given the Red Sox 10 1/3 innings -- in which he's allowed 18 hits and 13 earned runs -- and a DL-stint.

Randy Chaote and Grant Balfour are the exceptions to the rule, evidently. Both are throwing well in new homes.

Still, that's a pretty big group of people to have left and gotten worse (or in Garza's case, had less fortune) in just one season.

Meanwhile, Casey Kotchman, Sam Fuld, Johnny Damon, Kyle Farnsworth, Juan Cruz and a handful of others have helped propel the Rays into first place. Again.

This is yet another reason the Rays' front office is the best in the business. Whether it's knowing when to give up on players, when to cash in via trade, when to bring guys in at the absolute optimal time, how to develop the players or how to brainwash them into only playing well for the Rays, it's working.

If only they could generate enough revenue to get the payroll into the $80 million range. It would be interesting.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: May 9, 2011 10:28 am
Edited on: May 9, 2011 11:27 am
 

Pepper: Greinke's new home, Phillies, more




By Matt Snyder


ADJUSTMENT PERIOD OVER: Carl Crawford just needed a little patience. After a catastrophic beginning to his career in Boston, the speedy left fielder is swinging a hot bat in May. For the month, he's hitting .387 with two doubles and a triple. He's been hitting eighth in the batting order and manager Terry Francona had said that the Red Sox big offseason signing would move back up toward the top of the order when he started hitting. So does the current run suffice? Not quite yet.

“If you move one guy, somebody else goes, too,” Francona said (Boston Herald ). “I think there will be a time when it seems to me that it works for everybody that I would like to do that. He’s swinging the bat better, which is good. But it also has to work with everybody else, too.”

The Red Sox currently have Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia, Adrian Gonzalez and Kevin Youkilis in the 1-2-3 spots. There really doesn't seem to be anything wrong with that set up, so Francona has a point. Or maybe insert Crawford at the two-hole and knock everyone back a slot? There's probably no wrong answer.

BEEN THERE, DONE THAT: Alexi Ogando is suffering through a blister on his pitching hand (the index finger), which was the reason he missed Sunday's scheduled start. Fortunately he pitches for the Rangers, because team president Nolan Ryan dealt with the same issue back when he was a youngster for the Mets. Ryan's been helping Ogando use some remedies that helped him, such as shaving the blister so it dries out and rubbing pickle juice on it. While we're here, just to stave off the crowd of athlete-haters, a blister isn't a pain issue for pitchers. It's a matter of affecting command. (Star-Telegram.com )

FIVES ARE WILD: Apropos of absolutely nothing at all, every single American League game Sunday ended with one team having scored five runs. It was the first time a league had every game with one team scoring the same run total since August 10, 1993 when it happened in the NL. It doesn't mean anything, obviously, but it's a quasi-interesting little anomaly. (Hardball Talk )

FIRST IMPRESSION: Phenom Julio Teheran debuted Saturday for the Braves against the Phillies -- in Philadelphia, no less, which isn't exactly an easy place for opposing pitchers -- He only made it through 4 2/3 innings, giving up four hits, three earned runs and two walks while only striking out one. Still, it wasn't an awful debut. The kid is 20. Braves' skipper Fredi Gonzalez made sure to let Teheran he was pleased with the effort. "I wanted to make sure he told him that he did good and that he was impressive and that we liked the way he handled himself," Gonzalez said. "We told him that last night. But we wanted to make sure they told him again." (MLB.com )

LONEY WAKING UP: Judging from what I've seen on Twitter and message boards, James Loney is the most-maligned person affiliated with the Dodgers not named McCourt. It's easy to see why, as he's flashed the power of a sub-par middle infielder while playing a traditional power position for the past several years. But he is starting to swing the bat better. He's hitting .382 in his past 11 games, helping his season batting average to rise 56 points. (LA Times ) Then again, he hasn't had a single extra-base hit in that span. Don't expect the chirping to stop any time soon.

AUSTIN, TOO: It's been a rough 2011 for Tigers second-year center fielder Austin Jackson. He entered the weekend hitting .190 with a .258 OBP and 43 strikeouts in 121 at-bats. Don't count out the 24 year old just yet, though, because he showed signs of life in a three-game series at Toronto. He went 7-13 for a double, home run, two RBI and two runs, raising his average 34 points. "He is gradually coming back," manager Jim Leyland said. "When he puts it in play, he gets hits. When he put the ball in play last year he had a fantastic batting average." (Detroit Free Press )

NO SALE: Chris Sale, a 22-year-old flamethrower for the White Sox, burst onto the scene last season and looked dominant. He threw only 23 1/3 innings, but struck out 32 hitters en route to posting a 1.93 ERA. This year, he's only thrown 11 1/3 innings, but has allowed the exact same number of hits (15), more earned runs (nine, compared to five last year) and more home runs (three, compared to two last year). His ERA is a grotesque 7.15. His fastball velocity is down, which could be part of the problem, but Sale isn't buying that. “My main focus is not about lighting up the radar gun,’’ he said. "Everybody in this league can hit 98. That’s no secret. It’s a ­matter of where the pitch is, not how hard it is. I’m just trying to get back into a rhythm and figure out what’s the reason behind what’s going on." Everyone in the league can hit 98? Brandon Webb begs to differ. And someone get Greg Maddux on the phone ... though Maddux would most certainly agree with Sale's general point, which is that there's more to pitching than throwing hard. (Chicago Sun Times )

FOR REAL FRENCHY? Another season, another discussion of how good/bad Jeff Francoeur is. This time he's off to a hot start, so Fangraphs checks it out . The highlights are that his home runs per fly ball rate is unsustainable, but that Francoeur is swinging at far fewer pitches this season than in years past -- so the plate discipline improvement could propel him to one of his best seasons.

HOME COOKIN': Anibal Sanchez was one of the pitching stars of Mother's Day, as he took a no-hitter into the seventh and ended up with a career-high 11 strikeouts. So, of course, this was somehow due to his mom. "She made me breakfast this morning, so that's why I threw a game like that," Sanchez told reporters after the game.

QUADRUPLE-A: Taylor Teagarden hit three home runs and drove home seven in his return to Triple-A Sunday. That means in just seven Triple-A games this year, he has five bombs and 11 RBI. His last full season in the minors -- all the way back in 2007, Teagarden hit .310 with 27 home runs and 83 RBI. But in the majors, well, that's a different story. We know he has power. He has hit 16 home runs in 320 major-league at-bats, but he's also struck out 130 times and has a putrid .285 on-base percentage. Hey, maybe the Rangers can trade him to the Red Sox, just like they did Jarrod Saltalamacchia, another AAAA player.

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