Tag:Mark Buehrle
Posted on: November 4, 2011 1:46 pm
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Agent: Mark Buehrle open to any team

BuehrleBy Evan Brunell

It's always been assumed that free agent starting pitcher Mark Buehrle would either return to the White Sox or bolt for his hometown Cardinals, but his agent assured Fox Sports that the left-hander is open to joining any team.

Buehrle should be in demand this winter as he is coming off his 11th straight season of at least 200 innings pitched. He doesn't have the stuff that makes him an ace, but he can chew up innings and with his sharp control, the 32-year-old will be coveted. Agent Jeff Berry is doing what he can to open up Buehrle's market and says he may even prefer to pitch in the National League.

“Mark is not going to eliminate any team from free-agent consideration,” Berry said. “But having pitched 12 years in the American League, the National League certainly will have some appeal to him. There is no DH. It’s obviously less of a hitter’s league. And Mark has had great success in his career against the National League.”

Buehrle has a career 3.32 ERA against NL teams, running up a 24-6 record in 271 innings with 164 strikeouts and 50 walks. Compare that to his career, which sports a 3.83 ERA. It's no surprise that Buehrle is more successful against the NL than AL as you can say that about virtually any pitcher. But the soft-tosser may especially be suited to the NL and if he lands in a situation where his home stadium is a pitcher's park as opposed to Chicago's launching pad in U.S. Cellular Stadium, he could be in line for some impressive seasons.

The only NL team that has been attached to Buehrle other than his hometown Cardinals are the Marlins, who are on the hunt for a starting pitcher and have as manager Ozzie Guillen, who oversaw Buehrle in Chicago for eight seasons.

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Posted on: October 31, 2011 7:11 pm
Edited on: October 31, 2011 7:12 pm
 

Gold Glove finalists, Fielding Bible champs

Utley

By Evan Brunell


Fielding is taking center stage in baseball, as Rawlings released their Gold Glove finalists on Monday, while The Fielding Bible came out with their winners.

ESPN2 will air the winners of the Gold Glove balloting in the first-ever televised Gold Glove results, which used to be sent out as morning press releases. The show will begin at 10 p.m. ET and last for an hour. There are three finalists per position, and the most notable omission is Derek Jeter from shortstop, and rightfully so. Jeter has long won Gold Gloves based more on the merits of popularity and offense, but that's nothing new across all of Gold Glove voting, as Gold Glove award voting has been that way for some time. Jeter has won five awards, including taking each of the last two seasons.

Now, it will be either the Angels' Erick Aybar, J.J. Hardy of the Orioles, or the Indians' Asdrubal Cabrera who wins the AL Gold Glove. The full list of finalists can be found below, but first: The Fielding Bible.

“Quite simply,” said John Dewan, the founder of The Fielding Bible, “our intention is to stand up and say, ‘This is the best fielder at this position in the major leagues last season. Period.’”

Dewan uses a star-studded panel of voters that includes people such as Peter Gammons, former major-leaguer Doug Glanville and noted sabermetrician Bill James to determine the winners of each award, which more accurately reflect the best defenders in the league. The Bible differed from Gold Glove voting up until this season in that the Bible differentiated between left, center and right field while the Gold Glove used three generic "outfield" spots. That's changing this year, but another difference remains: if a player switches leagues during a season he is not considered for a Gold Glove. That's not the case for the Bible, which only makes one selection per position.

Below, you can find the winners of The Fielding Bible's defensive awards, plus Dewan's thoughts on each, as supplied in a news release. Only Albert Pujols, who won at first base, and Justin Upton in right field, were not finalists for a Gold Glove award.

C: Matt Wieters, Baltimore Orioles (first-time winner) -- also a Gold Glove finalist

“After Yadier Molina of the Cardinals won the previous four Fielding Bible Awards, Matt Wieters wins his first. And it wasn’t even close in the voting -- Wieters' 97 points to Molina's 74. When you look at the numbers, it wasn’t close there either. Prior to 2011, Molina has thrown out 42 percent of baserunners. On top of that, he has picked off an average of six baserunners per year. In 2011, Yadier dropped to 25 percent caught stealing and only picked two runners off. Wieters threw out 36 percent of basestealers in 2011. But it was the pitcher handling department where Wieters really excelled. Nine of his 14 runs saved are estimated for his pitcher handling, while Molina also had a down year in this area, costing the Cardinals six runs.”

1B: Albert Pujols, St. Louis Cardinals (five-time winner)

“It was no fluke,” Dewan says about a play in the NLDS, when Pujols gunned Chase Utley down at third base (pictured). “Since Baseball Info Solutions started tracking good fielding plays (GFP) in 2004, Albert Pujols has 37 GFPs on throws. The next best first basemen are Todd Helton of the Rockies with 16 and three others with 15 -- Mark Teixeira of the Yankees, Prince Fielder of the Brewers, and Lyle Overbay of the [Diamondbacks].”

2B: Dustin Pedroia, Boston Red Sox (first-time winner) -- also a Gold Glove finalist

"Dustin wins his first Fielding Bible Award with 97 of a possible 100 points. He took seven first-place votes (out of 10) and was voted second by the other three panelists. Pedroia has done well in voting in each of the last four years. He lost in a tie-breaker to Aaron Hill, then of the Blue Jays, in 2009 (each had 76 points), placed fourth in 2008, and seventh in 2010." Also, Pedroia had 44 GFP, best in baseball.

3B: Adrian Beltre, Texas Rangers (three-time winner) -- also a Gold Glove finalist

“Adrian Beltre received eight first place votes beating last year’s winner, Evan Longoria of the Rays, 98 to 90. It doesn’t matter where he plays: Los Angeles, Seattle, Boston, and now Texas. Beltre excels year after year. He has saved an estimated 156 runs defensively for his teams since 2003, an average of 17 runs prevented per year. That was his exact total for the Rangers in 2011, which translates into about two extra wins per year for his clubs, just on defense.”

SS: Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado Rockies (three-time winner) -- also a Gold Glove finalist

“Tulowitzki goes back-to-back, two Fielding Bible Awards in two years, and his third award of his five-year MLB career. Tulo is especially adept at making plays to his right. The Plus/Minus System credits him with 45 more plays in the shortstop hole compared to an average MLB shortstop over his five seasons. Tulowitzki also excels in another area. He had 67 GFP in 2011 compared to only 29 defensive misplays or errors. That +38 figure was tops in baseball.”

LF: Brett Gardner, New York Yankees (second-time winner) -- also a Gold Glove finalist

“Brett Gardner is the new Carl Crawford. Gardner repeats as the Fielding Bible Award winner in left field after Crawford won three of the four previous years. It was nearly unanimous as Gardner took nine first-place votes and one second. Gardner’s 22 defensive runs saved tied him with center field winner Austin Jackson of the Tigers for the most runs saved by an outfielder in 2011. That’s an extraordinary total for a left fielder. Normally the best center fielders save significantly more runs defensively than the best left fielders. For Gardner, having a center fielder’s range gives him a tremendous advantage, but he has an excellent throwing arm as well. He has saved the Yankees 13 runs (out of his 35 total) with his arm over the last two years.”

CF: Austin Jackson, Detroit Tigers (first-time winner) -- also a Gold Glove finalist

“He topped all center fielders with 21 runs saved in 2010, but Austin Jackson had to do it even better (with 22 Runs Saved) in 2011 to earn his first Fielding Bible award. Jackson has made 63 more plays than an average center fielder over the last two years. That’s an incredible total. It’s on the plays over his head that AJ really excels (43 of the 63). Making 43 more catches than an average center fielder on balls hit deep is where those lofty runs saved totals come in, as he is saving doubles and triples when he makes these catches.”
 
RF: Justin Upton, Arizona Diamondbacks (first-time winner)

“Justin Upton wins his first Fielding Bible award in 2011, unseating three-time winner Ichiro Suzuki of the Mariners. With Ichiro’s down year defensively (he finished 10th in the voting), panelists were divided in their balloting with seven different right fielders receiving first place votes. Upton received three first-place votes, Jason Heyward of the Braves two, with one apiece for Mike Stanton of the Marlins, Torii Hunter of the Angels, Andre Ethier of the Dodgers, Jay Bruce of the Reds, and Nate Schierholtz of the Giants. Like Austin Jackson of the Tigers in center field, Upton excels on deeply hit balls, where he fielded 18 more balls in 2011 than the average right fielder would have, based on the depth, angle and velocity of those hit to him.”

P: Mark Buehrle, Chicago White Sox (three-time winner) -- also a Gold Glove finalist

“It’s a third consecutive Fielding Bible Award for Mark Buehrle. It is remarkable how Buehrle puts up excellent defensive runs saved numbers year after year. He saved an estimated nine runs defensively for the White Sox in 2011, tops among all pitchers in baseball. He had eight saved runs in 2010, 11 in 2009, and has averaged about eight per year going back to 2004. His control of the running game is uncanny. Only three baserunners were successful stealing bases in 2011 with Buehrle on the mound, while nine of them were caught stealing or picked off by Buehrle. He covers his position as well, with 15 of his Runs Saved guarding the territory around the mound over the last three years.”

And now, your Gold Glove finalists:

Gold Glove Finalists
Pos. American League National League
C Matt Wieters, BAL
A.J. Pierzynski, CWS
Alex Avila, DET
Yadier Molina, STL
Brian McCann, ATL
Carlos Ruiz, PHI
1B Adrian Gonzalez, BOS
Casey Kotchman, TB
Mark Teixeira, NYY
Joey Votto, CIN
Gaby Sanchez, FLA
James Loney, LAD
2B Dustin Pedroia , BOS
Robinson Cano, NYY
Ian Kinsler, TEX
Brandon Phillips, CIN
Neil Walker, PIT
Omar Infante, FLA
SS Erick Aybar, LAA
J.J. Hardy, BAL
Asdrubal Cabrera, CLE
Troy Tulowitzki, COL
Ronny Cedeno, PIT
Alex Gonzalez, ATL
3B Adrian Beltre, TEX
Kevin Youkilis, BOS
Evan Longoria, TB
Placido Polanco, PHI
Daniel Descalso, STL
Pablo Sandoval, SF
LF Alex Gordon, KC
Brett Gardner, NYY
Sam Fuld, TB
Gerardo Parra, ARI
Ryan Braun, MIL
Matt Holliday, STL
CF Jacoby Ellsbury, BOS
Austin Jackson, DET
Peter Bourjos, LAA
Matt Kemp, LAD
Shane Victorino, PHI
Chris Young, ARI
RF Nick Markakis, BAL
Torii Hunter, LAA
Jeff Francoeur, KC
Andre Ethier, LAD
Carlos Beltran, NYM/SF
Jay Bruce, CIN
C Mark Buerhle, CHW
Dan Haren, LAA
Fausto Carmona, CLE
Clayton Kershaw, LAD
Hiroki Kuroda, LAD
Kyle Lohse, STL

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


Posted on: October 6, 2011 2:50 pm
Edited on: October 6, 2011 4:55 pm
 

R.I.P.: 2011 Chicago White Sox

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Another season gone, another disappointment for 29 teams as one is immortalized forever. Let’s take a look back at 2011 and forward in Eye on Baseball’s R.I.P. series... 

Team name: Chicago White Sox
Record: 79-83, 3rd place AL Central, 16 GB
Manager: Ozzie Guillen/Don Cooper
Best hitter: Paul Konerko -- .300/.388/.517 with 31 HR, 105 RBI
Best pitcher:Mark Buehrle -- 13-0, 3.59 ERA, 205 1/3 IP, 109 SO, 45 BB

2011 SEASON RECAP

That feeling Red Sox and Braves fans had in the last days of the season? That's what it felt like all season long on the Southside of Chicago. The White Sox spent big money to bring Adam Dunn to town and dreams of him crushing balls out of U.S. Cellular Field. Instead, he was the biggest flop since Cowboys vs. Aliens. Dunn had an emergency appendectomy early in the season, and that may have been his highlight for 2011, finishing the season hitting .159/.292/.277 with 11 home runs and 42 RBI. The disappointment in Dunn permeated the entire season, even though the White Sox were just three games back in the American League Central leading up to the trade deadline, they never looked like a serious contender. They didn't disappoint, going 11-17 over the last month of the season as manager Ozzie Guillen dropped hints about wanting out before getting his way and being sent to the Marlins for a couple of minor-leaguers.

2012 AUDIT

The White Sox already have nearly $90 million committed for 2012, so there's little chance of a quick fix. Jake Peavy, Alex Rios, Dunn and Konerko alone will account for $55.5 million, more than the entire 2011 opening day payroll for the Diamondbacks, Indians, Padres, Pirates, Rays and Royals. The will be looking to get some of its younger players, like catcher Tyler Flowers and outfielders Dayan Viciedo and Alejandro De Aza.

FREE AGENTS

LHP Mark Buehrle
OF Juan Pierre
RHP Jason Frasor ($3.75 team option)
UTIL Omar Vizquel
C Ramon Castro

OFFSEASON FOCUS

  • Forget the big-name managerial candidates. There's no need to throw money at Tony La Russa or Terry Francona. Hire Rays bench coach Dave Martinez. He's learned at the hand of baseball's best manager, Joe Maddon, and he's ready for his own challenge. Martinez also knows the landscape, as part of his long big-league career, he played for both the White Sox and Cubs. Sandy Alomar Jr., another former White Sox, would be a good choice, as well. UPDATE: Former third baseman Robin Ventura has been named manager, just hours after this was originally posted.
  • Avoid the free agent market. Yes, this could be difficult for Kenny Williams, but this is not the time for the White Sox to spend big bucks on free agents.
  • Not that anyone expects anything different, the White Sox should give Buehrle a nice watch and wave him goodbye. Buehrle would like to return, but his price tag is likely too high. His time, like Guillen's, is over.
  • Juan Pierre? Gone.
  • Dangle John Danks and Gavin Floyd. While there are some attractive names on the free agent market, the pitching market isn't as as good as the available position players. Teams will be looking for pitching, and either Floyd (making $7 million in 2012 with a club options or 2013) or Danks (in his final year of arbitration). If neither bring back the kind of return the team wants, you can pull them back. Look at Toronto's trade of Shaun Marcum for Brett Lawrie as an example. The White Sox have by far the worst minor-league system in baseball, and it needs replacements.
  • Tell Chris Sale to get ready to start. Kenny Williams already told him this, but let it be known it's his spot to lose.
For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 27, 2011 10:43 am
 

Pepper: McKeon praises Ozzie; Moneyball ripped



By Evan Brunell

Ozzie: The dominant story Monday night and today is obviously Ozzie Guillen, who was released from his contract after Monday night's game.

It looks as if Guillen is headed to the Marlins to become their skipper, and that's just fine with outgoing manager Jack McKeon, who plans to retire (again) from managing. Guillen served under McKeon back in 2003, so the octogenarian has familiarity with the former White Sox infielder.

"I like Ozzie," McKeon told MLB.com. "I think he's a very, very intelligent manager. I think he was a very smart player. I think he'll do well. He's done well. I think he's a good man. I like him. He's a good baseball man."

McKeon continued, praising Guillen's ability to interact with players.

"I liked the way he was able to control the players, especially the Latin players," McKeon said. "He wasn't afraid to jump on them and encourage them, but also try to help him. He wasn't worried about being their friend. He'd tell it like it is. And that's Ozzie. That's what reminds me of another guy [Jack McKeon]. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't."

In a separate story, the Chicago Tribune wonders whether Guillen moving to the Marlins could open up a Carlos Zambrano deal to Florida. Zambrano and Guillen are close friends, and the Marlins are looking to jack up payroll and raise fan interest heading into a new stadium and a new identity. It's certainly feasible -- the Marlins will have money to spend and a desire to upgrade the pitching.

Ripping Moneyball:
Honestly, I'd rather not even waste time giving Hawk Harrelson and Steve Stone publicity for this, but here goes: the two White Sox announcers ripped Moneyball despite not having read the book or seen the movie to CSNChicago.com. Credibility: out the window.

Hey, it's totally OK to rip things you disagree with. But to rip something with zero knowledge is ludicrous. (And no, being familiar with the "concept" of it or hearsay does not count.) Billy Beane isn't a perfect GM and he's made his share of mistakes, but that doesn't nullify the basic idea of Moneyball, which continues to be sadly unnoticed these days instead of the popular narrative of "Moneyball is about poor teams who love statistics and OBP and hate everything else!" Why are we still doing this in this day and age?

Oh, and according to Harrelson, playing like a kid is way better than putting up good statistics.

"You take Mark Buehrle, he has never lost his childlike qualities. That’s one reason he can go out there and throw an 86 miles-per-hour fastball and still compete and win."

Uh-huh. Or maybe Buerhle is really good at commanding the ball and inducing weak contact.

Nahhh.

Ted Williams movie? Could a movie be made about Ted Williams? Given the wealth of content of the Hall of Famer's life, a movie about Williams would be entertaining. John Underwood, who was a friend of Williams and wrote for years at Sports Illustrated, is developing a treatment he hopes can turn into something. With the success of Moneyball at the box office and Broadway wrapping up a play about Vince Lombardi, the time might be right. (Washington Times)

No charges: Juan Carlos Oviedo, a.k.a. Leo Nunez, will not face charges in the Dominican Republic for falsifying his identity. Given Oviedo came forward with the admission and cooperated with officials, he is getting a free pass. Only time will tell, though, if MLB will allow Oviedo back for 2012. (South Florida Sun-Sentinel)

Moved
: Phil Hughes admits he isn't pleased with pitching out of the bullpen for the Yankees. The righty has struggled through a difficult year for the Yankees, with a recent back issue prompting the move to the 'pen. Even if Hughes would understandably prefer to start and although it depletes the Yanks' thin rotation, Hughes has a chance to make a major impact in the bullpen in October. In 2009, he was a lockdown reliever setting up Mariano Rivera. (MLB.com)

Signed: Omar Infante has agreed to a two-year contract extension with the Marlins, worth $8 million. In his first year with the Marlins after coming over from Atlanta in the Dan Uggla deal, he hit .279/.317/.385 in 574 plate appearances. (MLB.com)

Returning: The Reds want to bring closer Francisco Cordero back, and he's pleased to hear that. There is a $12 million option on the closer's remaining deal, and it's not clear whether or not Cincy will pick the option up. A return for Cordero isn't surprising following a solid season in which he notched 35 saves. (MLB.com)

Back to Washington: If Jonny Gomes has his way, he'll be back with the Nationals after coming over from Cincinnati in a trade. Gomes hasn't quite impressed, but could be a strong bat off the bench for Washington next season. Gomes for his part says he would probably accept arbitration if the Nats offered it and believes the team will be "friggin' good." (Washington Post)

Where's Coco?
Coco Crisp wouldn't mind returning to the Athletics, but Oakland's free-agent machinations will depend on the outcome of the A's prospects of building a new stadium in San Jose. The A's will have competition if they want to bring Crisp back -- two sources say that San Francisco is expected to make a run at Crisp. (San Francisco Chronicle)

Looking ahead: Joe Mauer can't wait to put 2011 behind him, as the year represented a disappointment for both the club and Mauer, struggling with injuries and poor play. "You always want to do well when you put the uniform on," Mauer told MLB.com. "For me, my biggest goal is just to come back and be healthy. It's been a frustrating year. I haven't been healthy. Hopefully, we can do that as a whole. I'm talking about myself, but this whole room, we've kind of got the same thing going [with injuries]. My No. 1 goal is to just get healthy and just get ready for next year."

Lost season: Peter Moylan, a reliever for the Braves, missed months with a back injury. Finally back, Moylan got lousy news once more as he'll need surgery for a torn rotator cuff and labrum, which will be his third major surgery in four years. Moylan will miss about six months worth of time, so may not be ready for Opening Day. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 23, 2011 10:19 am
 

Pepper: Kemp is NL's most valuable

Matt Kemp

By C. Trent Rosecrans

They were wearing KEMVP shirts in Los Angeles on Thursday night -- and it's hard to argue with them.

In a season where there was little to cheer for at Chavez Ravine, Kemp's amazing 2011 season was something that never seemed to disappoint. And in the last home game of the season on Thursday, Kemp did nothing to disappoint -- with his mother in the stands, Kemp went 4 for 5 with three doubles and his 36th home run of the season.

And don't look now, but Kemp still has a shot at the triple crown -- he leads the league with 118 RBI, five ahead of Ryan Howard, he's just one homer behind Albert Pujols and he's third in batting average at .326, trailing Ryan Braun (.330) and Jose Reyes (.329).

He's also fourth in on-base percentage (.403), second in slugging (.582) and first in OPS (.985).  He also leads in total bases (335), runs (109), second in stolen bases (40) and second in hits (188).

If you like more advanced stats, according to Baseball-Reference.com, he leads in WAR (9.6) and OPS+ (171).

You may say his team stunk and he doesn't deserve the MVP -- but doesn't that make what he did more valuable? As bad as the Dodgers' season has been, they're still above .500 at 78-77 after last night's victory over the Giants. Andre Ethier had a nice run earlier in the season, but he's hardly been in the MVP discussion along with Kemp, while Braun has had Prince Fielder and Pujols has Lance Berkman and Matt Holliday. Jose Reyes' team has a worse record and Justin Upton can't match his stats. Kemp's not only the best player in the National League, he's also the most valuable.

Historic collapse: No, I'm not talking about the Red Sox or Braves -- it's the Pirates. Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, with a little help from the folks at Elias Sports Bureau, writes that in the modern age of Major League Baseball (otherwise known as "since 1900"), no team  has fared worse after being in first place at the 100-game marker. The Pirates have gone 16-40 since holding first place at 53-47 on July 25. The Pirates' .286 is by far the worst, with the 1977 Cubs coming second. That team was 60-40 through 100 games and then went 21-41 the rest of the way. You never want to be better than the Cubs at being bad.

Like his stature, Timmy likes his deals short: San Francisco's Tim Lincecum tells the San Francisco Chronicle  that he doesn't want to sign a long-term deal that would buy out his future free-agent years. Lincecum is eligible for free agency after the 2013 season.

Master storyteller: One of the great joys of this job is to meet some of the great personalities in this game. With broadcasters, most of their best stories come off the air -- and nobody has more and better stories than Vin Scully. Check out this story about Scully and Don Zimmer. [Los Angeles Times]

See you in San Jose?: Could the A's be the biggest beneficiary of the change in Giants ownership? They could be, and Mark Purdy, who broke the initial story, explains. [San Jose Mercury News]

Ichiro not ichi?: Ichiro Suzuki will likely have his streak of 10 years with at least 200 hits broken this week, and next year he may not be leading off. Mariners manager Eric Wedge is not committing to Ichiro batting in his customary leadoff spot next season. [Seattle Times]

Runs in the family: Raul Lopez, the father of the guy who caught Derek Jeter's 3,000th hit, got a souvenir of his own on Wednesday. [New York Times]

Ax mustache spray: Brewers closer John Axford made this fake commercial. [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel]

How about the American League MVP?: Forget Curtis Granderson on Adrian Gonzalez or Justin Verlander, Robinson Cano says that if he had a vote, he'd vote himself. He doesn't. [ESPN New York]

MVP improves: Last year's NL MVP, Joey Votto, says he did "more with less" this season than he did in 2010 when he won the league's MVP. Looking at his numbers -- and the absence of Scott Rolen in the lineup -- it's tough to disagree. If I had any quibble is it'd be that he did about the same with less. Either way, Votto was impressive and has established himself as one of the game's best. [MLB.com]

Oswalt not done: Although the 33-year-old Roy Oswalt had hinted at his retirement, his agent now says he's not considering hanging them up after this season. It may have something to do with Oswalt looking around at the weak free agent pitching market and seeing he'll get paid. [MLB.com

Porter interviewing again: If the Marlins were dating, they'd just about have to put out for Bo Porter by now. The Nationals' first-base coach is scheduled to interview for the Marlins' manager job soon, the Washington Post reports. Porter interviewed midseason last season when the team fired Fredi Gonzalez and then again after the season. Porter is among the candidates to take over in Washington, too, MLB.com reports

NL dreaming: White Sox starter Mark Buehrle says he's intrigued by the thought of pitching in a new league. Buehrle lives near St. Louis and has mentioned that he'd like to pitch for the Cardinals. Add him to Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright and Jaime Garcia and you'd have a pretty good rotation. Of course, the Cardinals do have other financial concerns this offseason. How about Cincinnati? It's a little longer drive to his home, but the Reds rotation could certainly use the veteran. [MLB.com]

Celebrate good times: The Astros announced their plans to celebrate their 50th anniversary season in 2012 with six different throwback uniforms they'll use next season -- including the famous rainbow jersey, one of the best in the history of the game. [MLB.com]

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 2, 2011 11:50 am
Edited on: September 2, 2011 12:25 pm
 

Baseball needs to improve pace of game

Gardner

By Evan Brunell

Baseball needs to speed up its games.

This is nothing new you're hearing. There are plenty of articles penned each season about this, especially every time the Yankees and Red Sox meet, doing their best to finish their games only after the West Coast completes theirs. With far too much regularity, you can bank on a Sox-Yanks game going four hours or more, which was the case Thursday night. Despite just six runs crossing the plate, it took 4:21 for New York to defeat Boston. And Josh Beckett wasn't even pitching, a man who took as much as 45 seconds to throw a pitch on Wednesday against New York.

Pace of game is a topic that has long bedeviled those in the game, and Sandy Alderson worked on the issue for years when he worked for MLB. And yet, the answer is staring everyone in the face. It's right there in the rule book. Prior to the 2007 season, MLB introduced a series of rule changes, which included:

Time between pitches: The allotment for delivering the ball with no one on base has been reduced, from 20 seconds to 12. The price for each violation is a ball.

Why the heck does baseball refuse to enforce this? It's not an issue of the players' association being unhappy. It's already in the rulebook, so the MLBPA doesn't have a valid complaint. And yet, it's a rule in name only -- umpires don't even bother to attempt to enforce it, except for isolated incidents every now and then that draw startled glances.

Rob Neyer at SB Nation thinks he knows why.

But umpires have to choose their battles. Sure, you can yell at your teenager every time she spends more than 15 minutes in the shower ... but is that really how you want to live? That's not how most umpires want to live. The great majority of umpires actually prefer to get along with everyone, because it makes life a lot easier.

What they should do is issue warnings, and call balls only if those warnings are repeatedly ignored. But even then, the pitchers and managers would scream bloody murder. Ejections, suspensions, appeals ... Even if the tactic "worked" in the long term, there would be a whole lotta pain in the short term. And we're programmed to avoid pain.

It's a valid point, as anyone whose ever had a teenage child can tell you. (And if you haven't, well... just think back to how you made your father lose his hair early.)

But why does it have to be up to the umpires to monitor how many seconds it takes a pitcher? Why can't baseball install a clock?

Before you start complaining about becoming more like the NBA instead of being baseball, did adding instant replay make baseball more like football? No. What adding replay did was add another facet to the game to help the right decisions be made, and required a whole new set of rules to be written. That's not the case with the clock for pitches. Again, it already exists. Adding a clock, which could easily be integrated without significant infrastructure upgrades by putting it on video scoreboards at stadiums, would be to improve the game of baseball and speed it up.

In my completely anecdotal surveying of sports fans over the years, improving the pace of the game would dramatically increase the interest of fans who otherwise avoid watching baseball. Heck, it would increase my own interest.

Here I am, having lived and breathed baseball for much of my life, having forgotten far more than I remember about the game and with a position writing about baseball. And yet, Thursday night's Sox-Yanks game made me want to stab an ice pick in my eye. It's just not fun to watch a game drag like that. But a two-hour, four-minute game? Sign me up. Those games are fun. Thursday night's Sox-Yanks game wasn't fun, it was a chore. This coming from someone who loves baseball.

Would there be pushback by players? Yeah, probably. No one adapts to change well, especially those who would feel severely crimped by the new rule -- the Becketts, the Rafael Betancourts of the world. But it's hard for these players to raise a stink when you have other players -- an entire team, actually -- trying to speed up games. The Diamondbacks have the NL West firmly in hand, but still struggle with attendance problems, as the Arizona Republic reports.

Pitcher Joe Saunders says the team has tried to make games more attractive to attend by playing "quick, intense games," finishing up a six-game homestand by completing every game in less than three hours. Even players know what it will take to attract fans to the game, and that's speeding up play.

It doesn't even have to be 12 seconds for a dramatic increase to be felt in the game. The average time it takes a pitcher to deliver a pitch after the prior one is 21.6 seconds (pickoffs excluded), a pace that has essentially remained unchanged back through at least 2007. Perhaps instead of requiring 12 seconds to deliver a pitch, you require 16 seconds. Or 18 seconds. Whatever number, as long as it's 20 seconds or less, will go a long way toward speeding games up.

In 2010, Baseball Reference found that an average of 292 pitches are thrown per game, up 22 pitches from 20 years ago. By dint of the increase alone, an additional eight minutes or so is needed to complete the game. That may not seem like a lot, but it's not small potatoes. If you average out 292 pitches per game by the 21.6 average seconds needed for each pitch, you're looking at an hour and 45 minutes per game. Add in warmups in between each inning, batted balls, reliever changes and so on and so forth, and you can start seeing why it takes about three hours to complete a game. But if you reduce the average time to 12 seconds between pitches, that comes out to just under an hour. So now you're looking at about two hours to complete a game, which is all Mark Buehrle needed on Monday to shut out the Twins. His average pace this season is 15.8 seconds, and is considered one of the fastest pitchers in the game. And even he doesn't reach the 12-second mark.

For whatever reason, baseball hasn't opted to enforce the rule. There are many brilliant minds working for MLB, and you can bet that the idea of enforcing the 12-second rule has been discussed. And discarded. With pace of the game always a hot-button topic, baseball needs to explain to everyone why enforcing the rule won't work. And they can't use the excuse of not wanting to burden umpires, because that's what clocks are for.

Baseball is the only major sport that's played without a clock, and that's one of the most endearing traits of the game. But a pitch-count clock doesn't count, not when it's (this is getting repetitive by now, isn't it?) already in the rules, and not when the overall game still would not be governed by a clock.

It's time for baseball to lay out why exactly a pitch-count clock can't be enforced, or to come up with an alternative.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed. Photo: Brett Gardner of the Yankees.


Category: MLB
Posted on: August 29, 2011 4:42 pm
Edited on: August 29, 2011 4:55 pm
 

On Deck: Two big NL East returns

OD

By Matt Snyder

The Mets and Marlins kicked things off with an afternoon game, as it was the front end of a doubleheader. That still leaves us with 12 night games, a healthy slate for a Monday night. Follow all the action live on our CBSSports.com scoreboard.

Hamels on the hill/Over Yonder: Phillies starter Cole Hamels (13-7, 2.62) will return from a quick stint on the disabled list Monday night. He was sidelined with inflammation to his left shoulder. Now the task will be making sure he's strong for the postseason, as there's little doubt the Phillies are headed to the best record in the NL. Monday's opponent is the Reds and Homer Bailey (7-5, 4.44) will be on the mound. An interesting note here from the Reds' side of things is that Yonder Alonso is starting at third base. The 24-year-old slugger is a defensively liability pretty much everywhere except first -- and there's even some debate to that. Considering the Reds have a decent player already at first, they're trying to find a new spot for Alonso. He's hitting .467 with three home runs and a 1.422 OPS in 36 plate appearances since being recalled, so that's why the Reds are experimenting. The issue: He's never played third, not even in the minors. Should be interesting, to say the least. Phillies at Reds, 7:10 p.m. ET.

Jose, Jose Jose Jose! He didn't get back in time to start the first game of the double-dip, but Jose Reyes will return to the Mets' lineup for the nightcap. As I wrote Sunday, Reyes' return to the lineup is compelling due to his impending free agency. He's hitting .336/.377/.507 with 34 steals and 80 runs in 98 games and is still leading the majors with 16 triples, but health questions might mitigate how much money Reyes commands on the open market. Ricky Nolasco (9-9, 4.30) is the Marlins' starter while Dillon Gee (11-5, 4.37) gets the nod for the Mets. Marlins at Mets, 7:40 p.m. ET (if not later, as it's the second game of the doubleheader).

Hurly Buehrle: The White Sox have won three straight and trail the Tigers by six in the AL Central. They can't wait much longer to get on a serious run, or else they'll be too far back come mid-September, so the time is now to build a huge winning streak. Monday, Mark Buehrle (10-6, 3.19) will be the White Sox's starter against the Twins. If recent history is any indication, a win should be coming. Buehrle has a 0.39 ERA and 0.61 WHIP in three starts against the Twins this season. On the flip-side, the White Sox have owned Twins starter Kevin Slowey (0-2, 6.84) over the course of his career, as Slowey has a 6.39 ERA in 38 innings against the White Sox. Still, games aren't won on paper or past history. Twins at White Sox, 8:10 p.m. ET.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: August 23, 2011 5:29 pm
 

On Deck: Giants hope for home cooking

OD

By C. Trent Rosecrans


Follow all games live with CBSSports.com's GameTracker.

Home, sweet home: San Francisco returns to AT&T Park after a 4-6 road trip, but find themselves treading water against a struggling Arizona squad that has lost six games in a row. After losing their last four series, the Giants open a 12-game home stand with San Diego for two games before Houston and Chicago come to town, setting up a big three-game set with division-leading Arizona. The Giants play 21 of their final 34 games at home, where they have the fourth-best winning percentage (.583) among National League teams. San Diego is 11 games under .500, but has won 12 of its last 18 games. The two-game series against San Diego is the start of a run of interdivisional games for the Giants, who play NL West teams 27 times in their final 34 and are done with non-NL West teams after this homestand. Padres at Giants, 10:15 p.m. ET

Hanging on: Two second place teams, the White Sox and Angels, start a quick two-game series at Angel Stadium. The series won't make or break either team, but both hope to keep pace in their divisional races. The White Sox are tied for second with Indians, 5 1/2 games behind the Tigers in the AL Central, while the Angels are 4 1/2 game behind the Rangers in the AL West. Both pitchers -- Chicago's Mark Buehrle and Los Angeles' Ervin Santana -- had winning streaks snapped in their last outting. Buehrle hadn't lost since June 16 and had a snap of 18 starts of allowing three runs or fewer by giving up four runs in a loss to Cleveland. Santana allowed four runs (three earned) in a loss to the Rangers last Wednesday, pitching into the eighth inning. Still, Santana has gone 6-3 with a 1.87 ERA over his last 12 starts, while Buehrle is 5-2 with a 2.37 ERA over his last 12 starts. White Sox at Angels, 10:05 p.m. ET

Youth movement: In his last start, Braves left-hander Mike Minor didn't give up a run in six innings of work, striking out nine batters and walking one (intentionally), allowing just four hits. Since entering the rotation in the place of Tommy Hanson, Minor's gone 2-0 with a 3.63 ERA in three starts, showing why the Braves think so highly of the 23-year-old former first-round pick. Cubs right-hander Casey Coleman has been less successful in replacing Carlos Zambrano in the Chicago rotation. In his first start in place of Zambrano, Coleman allowed 10 hits and four runs in 3 2/3 innings in a loss to Houston. He's 2-5 overall with a 7.43 ERA, but his ERA is lowered a bit to 7.05 as a starter. Braves at Cubs, 8:05 p.m ET

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