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Tag:Chipper Jones
Posted on: July 4, 2011 10:03 am
Edited on: July 4, 2011 10:26 am
 

Harsh words for umpires

Ron Washington

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Fines be damned, Rangers manager Ron Washington and Braves third baseman Chipper Jones expressed their frustration with umpiring Sunday.

Washington's target was Angel Hernandez, known far and wide as one of the worst umpires in baseball. After Washington and first-base coach Gary Pettis were ejected arguing that Florida reliever Mike Dunn had balked.

"Angel is just bad," Washington told reporters (via the Dallas Morning News). "That's all there is to it."

Probably adding insult to injury is that Hernandez is on the same crew as Joe West, another notorious umpire.

Chipper JonesWhile his specific beef was with rookie umpire Mark Ripperger, Jones took on the state of umpiring as a whole in his postgame comments, from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

"I've said it time and time again, the officiating in this league is substandard for the most part," Jones said. "I actually apologized to [Ripperger] after the 3-1 pitch, I said, 'I'm sorry. That pitch was right where the 2-1 pitch was and it was called a ball.' And he said that ball got plate.

"I knew that I was dealing with a larger than average strike zone at that point."

Jones tried to take first base twice in the at-bat, but Ripperger called the pitches strikes and Jones struck out to end the Braves' loss to the Orioles.

"I didn't say a word after the last pitch," Jones told reporters. "I know they are balls. I've been here 18 years, [and] I know what balls and strikes are. I know when guys are trying to pitch around me. He can stare me down all he wants; he made two bad calls."

Jones also said, "I guess it was a little too hot; [he] had to get on a plane." 

Jones' manager had his back: "I came back in here and looked at them on video; I thought they were awful," Fredi Gonzalez said. "I thought the balls were away, not even close. It's hard to lose a game on those two balls like that."

All three will be fined, but I'm not sure any of them care. In fact, Jones said as much afterward.

"I'm going to stick up for my team, if a guy's not going to do his job, I'm going to say something," he said. "If I get fined, I get fined. I don't care." 

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Posted on: July 3, 2011 12:39 pm
Edited on: July 3, 2011 3:39 pm
 

National League pitchers and reserves

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Albert Pujols may be back before the All-Star Game, the Cardinals said on Saturday, but he won't be on the All-Star team. Here's the rest of the National League team:

National League

Pitchers

Jonny Venters, Braves (players' pick)

Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers (players' pick)

Cole Hamels, Phillies (players' pick)

Jair Jurrjens, Braves (players' pick)

Joel Hanrahan, Pirates (players' pick)

Heath Bell, Padres (manager's pick)

Matt Cain, Giants (manager's pick)

Roy Halladay, Phillies (players' pick)

Tim Lincecum, Giants (manager's pick)

Brian Wilson, Giants (players' pick)

Ryan Vogelsong, Giants (manager's pick)

Cliff Lee, Phillies (player's pick)

Tyler Clippard, Nationals (manager's pick)

Reserves

OF Justin Upton, Diamondbacks (manager's pick)

3B Chipper Jones, Braves (players' pick)

SS Starlin Castro, Cubs (manager's pick)

2B Brandon Phillips, Reds (players' pick)

OF Jay Bruce, Reds (players' pick)

1B Joey Votto, Reds (players' pick)

SS Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies (players' pick)

1B Gaby Sanchez, Marlins (manager's pick)

OF Hunter Pence, Astros (players' pick)

OF Carlos Beltran, Mets (manager's pick)

OF Matt Holliday, Cardinals (players' pick)

C Yadier Molina, Cardinals (players' pick)

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Posted on: June 20, 2011 3:51 pm
 

Votto, Fielder to battle for NL starter at 1B



By C. Trent Rosecrans


Although St. Louis' Albert Pujols still leads the voting at first base for the All-Star Game, the race for first base will likely come down to two other National League Central first basemen, Cincinnati's Joey Votto and Milwaukee's Prince Fielder.

Even if Pujols hangs onto his lead over Votto and Fielder, he went on the disabled list on Monday with a forearm fracture and is unlikely to be available for the July 12 All-Star Game at Phoenix's Chase Field. However, All-Star rules stipulate if a voted starter in unavailable, the honor goes to the second-place finisher at the position.

In the next-to-last National League balloting update before the July 3 announcement of roster, Pujols is second in total votes for NL players behind Milwaukee's Ryan Braun. Braun leads the voting with 3,034,057 votes while Pujols has 2,806,864 votes.

Joey Votto is second in balloting among first basemen, narrowly edging the Brewers' Prince Fielder 2,270,211 to 2,066,327. Both Votto and Fielder certainly have convincing arguments. Votto, the reigning NL MVP, leads the NL in on-base percentage (.449) and is third in batting average (.327), while Fielder is second in the league in OPS (1.031), is tied for the league lead with 20 home runs and leads the league with 61 home runs.

The second base spot has a similar split between a Red and a Brewer, with Cincinnati's Brandon Phillips leading Milwaukee's Rickie Weeks 2,286,378 to 2,094,502 with Weeks closing in.

Philadelphia's Placido Polanco leads Atlanta's Chipper Jones by more than a million votes at third base, while Colorado's Troy Tulowitzki has a respectable lead over the Mets' Jose Reyes at shortstop. The Braves' Brian McCann leads the Cardinals' Yadier Molina by nearly half-a-million votes. The outfield's top three are Braun and the Cardinals' duo of Lance Berkman and Matt Holliday. The Dodgers' Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier, along with the Reds' Jay Bruce, are the next three in line.

Complete balloting is up at MLB.com.

The American League update will be released tomorrow.

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Posted on: June 13, 2011 7:52 pm
Edited on: June 13, 2011 10:16 pm
 

Heyward starts rehab assignment

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Jason HeywardChipper Jones may be a little happier Monday night, because not only has Jason Heyward started his rehab assignment with Triple-A Gwinnett, but he doubled in his first at-bat and then scored from second on a single. He finished the game 1 for 3 with a walk, leaving the game as part of a double switch in the eighth inning.

Heyward hasn't played since May 19 because of a shoulder injury. Last week Jones criticized Heyward, saying the talented outfielder needs to learn how to play hurt.

Heyward had just started hitting off a tee, but now it looks as if he could join the cool crowd and return this week. The Braves finish a series in Houston on Monday before heading home to host the Mets for three games and then the Rangers visit Atlanta.

Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said Heyward could be back as soon as Wednesday, which is also Jason Heyward bobblehead night at Turner Field.

"If he feels good [Tuesday], we could activate him," Gonzalez told David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "We're going to leave it up to him."

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Posted on: June 8, 2011 12:24 pm
Edited on: June 8, 2011 1:15 pm
 

Chipper: Heyward needs to learn to play hurt

Heyward

By Evan Brunell


To play or not to play?

That's a question that injured players have to grapple with, but Jason Heyward has been adamant that he will not return to the lineup until his shoulder is completely healed. He struggled to play through injuries as a rookie last season and at the start of this season, notes the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Heyward played 142 games as a rookie, hitting an impressive .277/.393/.456. His numbers could have been much better if not for groin, thumb and knee problems that hindered him all season and caused him to hit the 15-day DL at the end of June. In June he was clearly struggling with a .181/.287/.245 line. Heyward's struggles this year have resulted in a .214/.317/.407 line in 161 plate appearances, so he clearly needed a break because of his shoulder, which was sore to begin the year but graduated to outright pain by mid-May.

Braves veteran Chipper Jones, however, says that Heyward needs to reconsider his statement about being fully healthy before returning.

“I think where Jason might have erred was the comment that he made, ‘I’m not coming back until it doesn’t hurt anymore.’ That has a tendency to rub people the wrong way,” Jones said. “And we understand where he’s coming from -- he wants to be healthy when he plays, so he can go out and give himself the best opportunity to be successful. I get that.

“What Jason needs to realize is that Jason at 80 percent is a force, and Jason at 80 percent is better than a lot of people in this league. And that there are a bunch of his teammates that are out there playing with discomfort and not healthy, and still going at it.”

This is a sensitive topic, and there's no real answer. Everyone reacts and adapts to injuries differently, and baseball is a macho culture that demands everything it is to be macho: swagger, grit, manning up and playing through injury. No one likes an injury-prone player, as Boston's J.D. Drew can attest, who also struggles with perception about his attitude and the fact he spurned the Phillies in the 1997 draft. And sure, there are definitely plenty of players out there who refuse to play at anything less than 100 percent to pad statistics and ensure health, but there's plenty of other players who don't play unless they are 100 percent because they simply can't.

No one really knows which camp Heyward falls in, and he probably doesn't know himself either.

“There’s not [pat answers]; it’s within each individual player,” Jones acknowledged, but that didn't stop him from making his opinion known. And when the great Jones speaks, especially regarding someone who grew up in Georgia, many people including Heyward himself can't help but listen.

“It’s just a situation where, I don’t think he really realizes how much of an impact he has on the game just by his presence,” Jones added. “And that’s something I had to learn, too. When I started going through my injuries early on, obviously I wanted to get healthy and whatnot. But I realize that, even now, my presence in the lineup means something. Whether I’m healthy or not.

“And he’s more of a benefit to us standing out there in right field than he is down here in Florida [at extended spring training].”

Can you blame a 21-year-old who has a bad taste in his mouth from 2010  for taking a step back and looking to get his entire body healthy? The Braves won't benefit from Heyward at 80 percent for the rest of the year if that means he's 80 percent for the rest of his career. Heyward has the chance to be a once-in-a-generation hitter, and one could argue he's already proved his willingness to play through pain. Yet, here's Jones adding even more pressure to a person burdened by lofty expectations.

“[Heyward is] feeling a better, so that’s a good sign,” manager Fredi Gonzalez noted. “Probably about three or four days away from swinging a bat. What I mean by that, probably hitting off a tee, soft-toss.”

If Heyward progresses normally, he'll graduate to batting practice and/or an extended spring training game, then go on a minor-league rehab assignment for a few games. At the earliest, Heyward still figures to be out until Father's Day weekend. Hopefully that's fast enough for Chipper Jones.

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Posted on: June 7, 2011 3:30 pm
Edited on: June 7, 2011 5:00 pm
 

Agents says Ramirez wants to stay in Chicago

Aramis Ramirez

By C. Trent Rosecrans


Aramis Ramirez is still a Cub and he wants to keep it that way.

Ramirez's agent, Paul Kinzer, told the Chicago Tribune that his client doesn't want to be traded and is unlikely to OK a trade if the team asked. Ramirez has a full no-trade clause and is also a 10-and-5 player, meaning he must OK any trade because of his 10 years of Major League service time, inclujding the last five with the same team.

"He doesn't event want to take a trade. He took less years and less money to stay in Chicago [in 2006], so that is definitely his first option," Kinzer told the paper.

Ramirez makes $14.6 million this season and the Cubs have a club option for 2012 worth $15 million, one they'll no doubt decline and pay a $2 million buyout.

Ramirez is hitting a solid .288 with a .343 on-base percentage, but his slugging is down to just .394 with two homers in 216 plate appearances. Ramirez has a career slugging percentage of .495, but it has dipped each of the last seven seasons since he slugged a career-best .578 in 2004. Since then his slugging has decreased, sometimes gradually (.568 in 2005) and sometimes drastically, from .516 in in 2009 to .452 last season.

As I was watching the Cubs-Reds for a bit last night, they flashed some of Ramirez's career stats -- in his 14th season -- and ninth in Chicago, Ramirez has accumulated 291 home runs and 1,050 RBIs, all the while hitting .282/.340/.495. Even playing for the Cubs, I'm not so sure Ramirez has ever gotten his due for just how good of a player he's been over the years. He has earned just two All-Star nods.

Perhaps he has been overlooked among National League third basemen because he played in the time of Chipper Jones and Scott Rolen, as well as during the rise of David Wright and Ryan Zimmerman

Ramirez will turn 33 later this month and his power seems to be diminishing. Also, he has been at best an average defender. There's no way he makes $15 million next season and it appears his career is on its downside. Desppite that, there are teams that could use him for even his current skills. That said, it's unlikely to be the Cubs, unless he likes the team so much he'll take a huge paycut to stay in Wrigley.

By the way, Kinzer is also the agent for Geovany Soto, Starlin Castro and John Grabow. Kinzer told the Tribune he doesn't expect the Cubs to jettison Soto or Castro (duh), but it's possible Grabow could be on the market when the trade market begins to heat up. 

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Posted on: May 24, 2011 12:08 pm
Edited on: May 24, 2011 12:29 pm
 

The best and worst baserunners in the game

McLouth

By Evan Brunell


On Tuesday, Fangraphs unveiled a new statistic titled Ultimate Base Running. The calculation of UBR is similar to how the efficiency of outfield arms are calculated for use in Ultimate Zone Rating, one of the best freely available metrics to measure defense. Here's Fangraphs on how its calculated:
Whatever credit (positive or negative) is given to an outfielder based on a runner hold, advance, or kill on a batted ball is also given in reverse to the runner (or runners). There are some plays that a runner is given credit (again plus or minus) for that do not involve an outfielder, such as being safe or out going from first to second on a ground ball to the infield, or advancing, remaining, or being thrown out going from second to third on a ground ball to SS or 3B.

Runs are awarded to base runners in the same way they are rewarded to outfielders on “arm” plays. The average run value in terms of the base/out state is subtracted from the actual run value (also in terms of the resultant base/out state) on a particular play where a base runner is involved. The result of the subtraction is the run value awarded to the base runner on that play.

Enough with the mechanics of the statistic. Let's take a look at the season leaders are in UBR. Keep in mind two things: First, UBR is a cumulative statistic. That is, the more you play, the more your UBR will change, so those who haven't played much this season will rank low on the leaderboard in part due to lack of playing time. Next, it's too early to judge the effectiveness of UBR. The defensive statistic of UBR tends to need three full seasons of data to get anything usable for defensive judgement. It's not yet clear if UBR can be relied on immediately or if more time is needed. Still, this data is a leap forward in player evaluation, as baserunning skills (not to be confused with speed or stealing) were one of the few remaining hurdles to clear to get an overall look at a player's effectiveness.

Here are the top 10 baserunners in 2011 according to UBR, plus their career marks in parentheses. Data only goes back to 2002, so an asterisk will denote one season of missed data. For example, Ichiro Suzuki receives one asterisk as he played in 2001. Keep in mind that while this list can help strip out strong baserunners from those who bumble their way around the bases, it's still a list influenced by speed. Going second to third on a fly ball is easier when you run like Usain Bolt.
  1. Nate McLouth (pictured), Braves: 2.8 (12.5)
  2. Alex Rios, White Sox: 2.8 (14.5)
  3. Melky Cabrera, Royals: 2.7 (-0.2) -- So not only as Melky Cabrera completely turned his career around by becoming a better defender and rediscovering his stroke, he's positing a positive UBR for the first (and only) time in 2006. Maybe he really has screwed his head on.
  4. Alexei Ramirez, White Sox: 2.5 (10.3)
  5. Alex Gordon, Royals: 2.4 (6.5)
  6. Aaron Rowand, Giants: 2.2 (15.7*) -- Rowand was actually especially bad last season, with a -2.8 mark. And yet, with roughly a third less at-bats to date, he's already almost mirrored his negative mark from last season positively. That's a big jump in limited playing time.
  7. Brian Roberts, Orioles: 2.2 (11.6)
  8. Danny Espinosa, Nationals: 2.2 (2.8)
  9. Michael Bourn, Astros: 2.1 (13.9) -- Bourn had a 5.8 mark in 2009, which placed him fifth. Chone Figgins ran away with the top spot at a 7.9 mark, but Bourn has racked up strong numbers consistently the last few seasons. He may not hit for much power or even average, but he does everything else.
  10. Ichiro Suzuki, Mariners: 2.1 (24.0*)
There's a couple interesting names here, but by and large, this list is far from surprising. It's comprised of speedy or competent runners who need to bring value beyond their traditional offensive skill set to remain valuable.

And now, your trailers, a list that is wholly unsurprising:
  1. Paul Konerko, White Sox: -4.4 (-44.2*****)
  2. Casey McGehee, Brewers: -4.1 (-4.2)
  3. Brett Wallace, Astros: -4.0 (-4.0)
  4. Chipper Jones, Braves: -3.6 (-4.4********) -- A lot of missed seasons for Jones, but the trend is clear: he used to be a decent baserunner... until his knees went to hell.
  5. David Ortiz, Red Sox: -2.8 (-40.5*****) -- Ortiz is the anti-Larry Walker, who was hailed for his baserunning acumen despite lack of speed. Ortiz and a few other guys on this list are considered the slowest runners in the game, so it's not much of a surprise.
  6. Ryan Howard, Phillies: -2.8 (-22.5)
  7. Aramis Ramirez, Cubs: -2.5 (-27.2****)
  8. Alfonso Soriano, Cubs: -2.4 (3.9***) -- Soriano posted his first negative mark in 2006 (discounting missing 1999-2001 numbers), his last season before joining the Cubs. In five seasons with Chicago, he's only posted two positive marks.
  9. Adrian Gonzalez, Red Sox: -2.1 (-12.8)
  10. Yadier Molina, Cardinals: -2.1 (-19.0)
Want more? How about the top and bottom five from 2002 to today?

The top:
  1. Juan Pierre (43.6)
  2. Chone Figgins (41.7)
  3. Jimmy Rollins (33.6)
  4. Carlos Beltran (30.5)
  5. Rafael Furcal (28.6)
Former/kinda current speedsters who have had age and injuries affect their speed. Unsurprising.

The bottom:
  1. Konerko
  2. Ortiz
  3. Jim Thome (-33.9)
  4. Pat Burrell (-30.6)
  5. Kevin Millar (-30.2)

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Posted on: May 20, 2011 1:41 pm
Edited on: May 20, 2011 1:42 pm
 

Who will DH in interleague for NL teams?

Soriano

By Evan Brunell


Interleague play is upon us, which means that we'll be seeing some players in the National League get more at-bats over the weekend (and later in June, when interleague play really gets going) while AL teams will grouse about losing one of their best bats in NL parks.

“Any time that you get to interleague play and get the opportunities to get the guys some more at-bats is big,” Astros manager Brad Mills told the Houston Chronicle. “Get some guys some playing time and to have [Carlos Lee] DH is really nice for when we start playing National League games again and having those guys have at-bats under their belt.”

It's pretty easy to figure out which players in the American League will lose playing time -- just look at whose been DHing the most all season and go from there. The NL, though, is a different story, who now have to fit someone from the bench into the starting lineup. Looking at just this weekend only, which players stand to benefit from interleague play?

Cubs vs. Red Sox
: Alfonso Soriano (pictured) is a man without a position, even though he'll go down in history with well over 700 games in left field to his name once he retires. But for the next three days, DH will be his home. Soriano still doesn't have an OBP over .300, but his power stroke is still going with 11 bombs so far. Tyler Colvin was recently demoted, so he won't get the playing time in left, so that job will fall to both Reed Johnson and Tony Campana. Johnson will absolutely be in the lineup Friday against a lefty, but with right-handers going the next two days, Campana could earn his first two starts of the season. Jeff Baker and Blake DeWitt could also figure into the equation.

Nationals vs. Orioles: Bank on Matt Stairs DHing, as manager Jim Riggleman termed him the "leading candidate" to the Washington Post. The pinch-hitting extraordinaire has just 21 at-bats on the year with two hits, but regular at-bats could get him going. Other contenders include Mike Morse, who has lost a lot of at-bats in left field to Laynce Nix lately, so this would represent an opportunity to get Morse going.

Reds vs. Indians: Jonny Gomes, despite recently being pushed into a three-way platoon, is the favorite to DH all three games in Cleveland. Gomes has been the DH in 16 of the last 18 interleague matchups for the Reds and will assume that position again in Cleveland which frees up left for Chris Heisey; Fred Lewis will likely also grab some at-bats.

Mets vs. Yankees
: Manager Terry Collins says that Fernando Martinez will DH the first two games with Carlos Beltran going on Sunday to take some pressure off his creaky knees, the New York Post writes. The Mets didn't want to call up F-Mart so he could get regular at-bats in the minors, but were forced into the move earlier. This will allow the Mets some type of justification for the move by getting Martinez into a game.

Astros vs. Blue Jays: As Mills alluded to, Carlos Lee will be the DH in Toronto, with Brian Bogusevic and Jason Michaels picking up outfield starts as a result. Anytime the Astros get Lee out of the field, they become a much better club. Granted, that still leaves them in bad shape. Lee is hitting .245/.274/.390 in 168 plate appearances in his second straight year of struggling. There's only one year left on his deal, which the 'Stros can't wait for to end. He notched his 2,006th hit last Saturday.

Dodgers vs. White Sox: The Dodgers will probably go with Jay Gibbons, as he's been working his way into more and more playing time in left. With the DH around, though, Gibbons should slide over to make room for Tony Gwynn, Jr.'s move into left field. Gibbons hasn't really gotten going yet, and this weekend series will be a great way for him to focus on just hitting while L.A. doesn't have to worry about sacrificing defense.

Cardinals vs. Royals: The Cardinals get some fortuitous timing of interleague as both Lance Berkman and Matt Holliday are hobbled due to injury. Only one can DH, but it will still get one of the two best bats on the team in the lineup. Bet on Holliday, who had a sore left leg. Berkman's injury is a bit more severe, with a right wrist sprain that limits his ability to swing a bat. John Jay, who earned starting time last season, has found the going much tougher this year, collecting just 78 at-bats despite appearing in 48 games. Jay tends to enter games as a defensive replacement, but has received four consecutive starts because of current or previous injuries to Holliday, Berkman and Colby Rasmus.  He's at .302/.397/.460 on the year.

Braves vs. Angels: To no surprise, Chipper Jones will receive a respite from his balky knees over the next two games as he recovers from a slight meniscus tear that could eventually require surgery. He'll play third on Sunday, though, which will open up DH for someone else. The guess here is the injury-prone Jason Heyward draws a start at DH, with Joe Mather or Eric Hinske patrolling the outfield as a result.

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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