Tag:Nyjer Morgan
Posted on: October 1, 2011 11:56 am
 

NLDS Game 1 preview: Gallardo owns D-Backs

Yovani Gallardo

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Diamondbacks at Brewers, 2:07 p.m. ET, Miller Park, TBS

Diamondbacks Brewers
No. Name Pos No. Name Pos
1 Willie Bloomquist SS 1 Corey Hart RF
2 Aaron Hill 2B 2 Nyjer Morgan CF
3 Justin Upton RF 3 Ryan Braun LF
4 Miguel Montero C 4 Prince Fielder 1B
5 Chris Young CF 5 Rickie Weeks 2B
6 Lyle Overbay 1B 6 Jerry Hairston Jr. 3B
7 Ryan Roberts 3B 7 Yuniesky Betancourt SS
8 Gerardo Parra LF 8 Jonathan Lucroy C
9 Ian Kennedy RHP 9 Yovani Gallardo RHP

PITCHING MATCHUPS

Kennedy vs. Brewers: The Diamondbacks' 21-game winner faced the Brewers just once this season, holding the potent Brewers offense to just four hits in seven scoreless innings. However, that one start was in Arizona and the Brewers are a much different team at home. Milwaukee is hitting .277/.344/.461 at home and .246/.307/391 away from Miller Park. Kennedy's had susccess in smalll sample sizes against Brewers batters, with Craig Counsell having the most success against him (2 for 5), while Fielder is the only Brewer batter to hit a homer off of Kennedy, tagging the right-hander once in eight at-bats, but also striking out five times. 

Gallardo vs. Diamondbacks: The Brewers right-hander has dominated the Brewers in his career, putting up a 5-0 record and 1.20 ERA in five career starts against Arizona. This season he faced Arizona twice, beating them in Milwaukee on July 6 and in Arizona on July 19. 

NOTES

Full Playoff Coverage
  • The Brewers have announced the roof at Miller Park will be closed for today's game. Weather.com says it will be 54 degrees at first pitch.
  • Fun with small sample sizes seems to be the reason for the Diamondbacks starting Overbay at first over rookie Paul Goldschmidt. Overbay is 2 for 3 in his career against Gallardo. Overbay is one of just two Diamondbacks with an average better than .333 against Gallardo, Cole Gillespie (1 for 2 with a homer) is the other. Overbay is also hot, hitting .381/.480/.667 with a homer in 25 plate appearances in September -- against, small sample sizes.
  • Another surprise in the lineups is third base for the Brewers, where Hairston gets the nod over Casey McGehee. Neither has a hit in their career against Kennedy. Expect McGehee back in the lineup Sunday against right-hander Daniel Hudson. McGehee is 5 for 5 with a homer against Hudson in his career.
  • Morgan is back in center field for Milwaukee after missing the last two regular-season games. On Monday, Morgan fouled two pitches off his right leg.
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Posted on: September 30, 2011 4:29 pm
Edited on: October 1, 2011 3:22 pm
 

2011 NLDS matchup: Brewers vs. Diamondbacks

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Milwaukee made a splash in the winter acquiring Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum -- it was a signal to the baseball world that the Brewers were going for it in 2011 and anything short of the postseason would be a disappointment in what figures to be Prince Fielder's last season in Milwaukee. Well, the Brewers responded by winning their first division title since 1982, when Harvey's Wallbangers went to the World Series as the American League representatives. While the Brewers were picked by many to be in the playoffs, the Diamondbacks were a complete surprise. Both teams have used pitching to get here, so expect some strong pitching performances.

TEAM INFORMATION

Milwaukee Brewers (host games 1, 2, 5)
96-66, NL Central champions
Manager: Ron Roenicke
Team batting statistics: .261 batting average (3rd in NL), .325 on-base percentage (4th), .425 slugging percentage (2nd)
Team pitching statistics: 3.64 ERA (7th), 1.240 WHIP (3rd), 2.86 K/BB (2nd)
Star player: LF Ryan Braun -- .332/.397/.597 33 HR, 111 RBI, 109 R, 38 2B, 6 3B, 33 SB

Arizona Diamondbacks (host games 3, 4)
94-68, NL West champions
Manager: Kirk Gibson
Team batting statistics: .250 batting average (10th in NL), .322 on-base percentage (7th), .413 slugging percentage (3rd)
Team pitching statistics: 3.80 ERA (9th), 1.286 WHIP (7th), 2.39 K/BB (7th)
Star player: RF Justin Upton -- .289/.369/.529 31 HR, 88 RBI, 105 R, 39 2B, 5 3B, 21 SB

SCHEDULE (Click here to view the entire postseason schedule)  

Game 1: ARI @ MIL, Oct. 1, 2:07 p.m. ET. Ian Kennedy (21-4, 2.88) vs. Yovani Gallardo (17-10, 3.52)
Game 2: ARI @ MIL, Oct. 2, 4:37 p.m. ET. Daniel Hudson (16-12, 3.49) vs. Zack Greinke (16-6, 3.83)
Game 3: MIL @ ARI, Oct. 4 Shaun Marcum (13-7, 3.54) vs. Joe Saunders (12-12, 3.69)
Game 4: MIL @ ARI, Oct. 5* Randy Wolf (13-10, 3.69) vs. TBD
Game 5: ARI @ MIL, Oct. 7* TBD vs. Gallardo
* if necessary

TEAM BREAKDOWN (Click player name for statistics)

Catcher
Milwaukee: Jonathan Lucroy
Arizona: Miguel Montero

Hands-down Montero is the better offensive threat, hitting .282/.351/.469 with 18 homers and 86 batted in. The 27-year-old made his first All-Star team this year and while he was once thought of as an all-offense catcher, his defense has improved.

Advantage: Diamondbacks

First base
Milwaukee: Prince Fielder
Arizona: Paul Goldschmidt

The rookie Goldschmidt has come up big in some important games, but he still has 222 fewer career homers than Fielder.

Advantage: Brewers

Second base
Milwaukee: Rickie Weeks
Arizona: Aaron Hill

The Diamondbacks and Blue Jays pulled off an August deal for struggling second basemen, sending Kelly Johnson north of the border and Hill going to Arizona. The change of scenery worked for Hill, who is hitting .315/.386/.492 in 33 games with the Diamondbacks. Weeks' numbers are down and he's coming off an ankle injury that limited him to 14 games since the end of July.

Advantage: Brewers

Shortstop
Milwaukee: Yuniesky Betancourt
Arizona: John McDonald

McDonald was an emergency stopgap acquired from the Blue Jays along with Hill in August, for the injured Stephen Drew. And Yuniesky Betancourt is Yuniesky Bentancourt, one of the worst all-around players in all of baseball.

Advantage: Diamondbacks

Third base
Milwaukee: Casey McGehee
Arizona: Ryan Roberts

Roberts is better known for his tattoos, but he's also had a decent season for the Diamondbacks, while McGehee has had a disastrous 2011. With a .223/.280/.346 line, McGehee's OPS+ is just 69. There's pop in that bat, but it's been hard to find.

Advantage: Diamondbacks

Left field
Milwaukee: Ryan Braun
Arizona: Gerardo Parra

Braun is going to be one of the favorites to win the MVP, Parra is not.

Advantage: Brewers

Center field
Milwaukee: Nyjer Morgan
Arizona: Chris Young

Young is one of the best defensive center fielders in the game, but has struggled a bit at the plate. Morgan is the Brewres' spark plug and resurrected his career in Milwaukee. Morgan's intangibles are huge -- and in the Brewers' favor.

Advantage: Brewers

Right field
Milwaukee: Corey Hart
Arizona: Justin Upton

Hart sometimes get lost in the shadow of Fielder and Braun, but he's had a pretty good season, as well, hitting .285/.356/.510 with 26 homers in 130 games. That said, Upton is one of the best young players in the game and will be in the top 10 of the MVP results.

Advantage: Diamondbacks

Starting pitching
Milwaukee: Yovani Gallardo, Zack Greinke, Shaun Marcum, Randy Wolf
Arizona: Ian Kennedy, Daniel Hudson, Joe Saunders

Both teams are strong at the top, but the Brewers have more depth, with Marcum starting Game 3 and Randy Wolf possibly starting Game 4. Of course, the three-man rotation could really help the Diamondbacks, allowing Kennedy and Hudson to pitch twice if needed. Greinke wanted out of Kansas City so he could pitch in the playoffs, and now he gets his shot.

Advantage: Brewers

Relief pitching
Milwaukee closer: John Axford
Arizona closer: J.J. Putz

Last season the Diamondbacks had a historically bad bullpen. This year it's one of the reasons they're in the playoffs. While Axford is the best of the three closers in this series (counting the Brewers' Francisco Rodriguez), the Diamondbacks have the deeper bullpen, which only improved when Kirk Gibson decided to go with a three-man rotation and put right-hander Josh Collmenter in the bullpen, where he started the season.

Advantage: Diamondbacks

Total advantage: Tie: Diamondbacks (5), Brewers (5)

PREDICTION (click here to see full postseason predictions)

CBS Experts
Evan Brunell: Brewers in 5
Gregg Doyel: Brewers in 5
Danny Knobler: Diamondbacks in 5
Scott Miller: Brewers in 4
C. Trent Rosecrans: Brewers in 4
Matt Snyder: Brewers in 4

Trent's take: I'm still not exactly sure how the Diamondbacks wound up in the playoffs. The team has been doubted from spring training to the All-Star break and even at the start of the regular season's final month. Nobody has believed in the Diamondbacks at any point of this season. So I'm pretty sure they won't be too upset to be picked against here. Milwaukee has famously "gone for it" since last season, pulling off moves big (Greinke, Rodriguez) and small (Morgan). No pitcher likes to see Braun and Fielder back-to-back in that Brewers lineup, not even a 21-winner like Kennedy. The Brewers also have the arms in the rotation to be dangerous. I like the Brewers, but it wouldn't be the first time I was wrong about Arizona.

More Brewers-Diamondbacks NLDS coverage

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Posted on: September 9, 2011 7:06 pm
 

Carpenter admits to cussing at Morgan



By Matt Snyder


Earlier this week, the Brewers and Cardinals nearly threw down after an exchange between Cardinals pitcher Chris Carpenter and Brewers outfielder Nyjer Morgan. In the aftermath, Carpenter hadn't really talked about his part in the near-fracas, only that Morgan doesn't play "the right way." Morgan contended that Carpenter started by saying an obsenity in his direction.

Friday, Carpenter came clean and admitted that he did as much, though he refused to say that was when the problem started. Yes, he yelled the f-bomb in Morgan's direction after striking him out. But that isn't exactly what started the problem.

From Matthew Leach of MLB.com:
But Carpenter wanted to make another point in tandem with that admission. He noted that while he said something once to Morgan, Morgan said a lot of things, repeatedly, over the course of Wednesday night and in prior starts as well. Each time, he ignored it, until he struck out the Milwaukee outfielder in what will be their final head-to-head plate appearance of 2011.
So Morgan would say that Carpenter started a near-fight after the strikeout, but Carpenter would say that Morgan had long since started an issue between the two and the dustup was a mere continuation of their personal issues.

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Posted on: September 8, 2011 10:06 am
Edited on: September 8, 2011 10:38 am
 

Pepper: Marlins' new home could bring makeover



By Matt Snyder


While it certainly doesn't necessarily mean on-field success, the Florida Marlins are about to finally have their own home. After sharing a park with the NFL's Miami Dolphins since first taking the field in 1993, the Marlins will begin 2012 with a baseball-only facility in Miami. Wednesday, local media were given a tour of the facility and the Marlins took the opportunity to sing their own praises.

"This will be the first ballpark to come in on budget and on time in a long, long time," team President David Samson said (Sun-Sentinel.com). "There will not be overruns in this building. This building will come in at the $515 million mark, not one dollar over budget, [and] not one thing taken out of the building. As a matter of fact, we have been able to add things because the workers have been so efficient and it has been built so well."

Samson also noted that he's personally sat in every single seat and went with the proverbial "there's not a bad seat in the house" sentiment.

So the Marlins' fans will finally have a place that seems like a real home instead of some rental where a baseball game seems foreign and unwelcome. Attendance will surely increase (the Marlins average less than 19,000 fans per game this year -- and that's paid, not how many actually show up), but what about the problem that has plagued the Marlins for years: Payroll?

"I know it will be at levels previously unseen," Samson said (Sun-Sentinel.com).

Interesting.

The time might be now to start ramping up the baseball excitement, south Florida.

Real life 'Wild Thing:' If you like baseball and don't love Charlie Sheen's character -- Ricky "Wild Thing" Vaughn -- in "Major League," well, you might have as many screws loose as Sheen. In the movie, Vaughn earned the nickname after loading the bases with walks on 12 straight pitches and then later set a record for wild pitches in an inning. Embattled Yankees starting pitcher A.J. Burnett didn't do it in an inning, but he has now joined rare company with his wild pitches. With three Wednesday, he became the first pitcher since 1919 to have eight games with at least three wild pitches (Baseball-Reference blog).

A better Johan? Mets ace Johan Santana has been sidelined all season after having a surgical procedure in 2010. But he's getting closer and closer to possibly seeing some relief work this September, just to get him back on the mound for an inning or two. And get this: Mets' pitching coach Dan Warthen said Santana's stuff is better right now than it was last season (when he had a 2.98 ERA in 199 innings). "Better velocity," Warthen said (NYDailyNews.com). "The arm was in the same slot each and every time. He wasn't searching for a place that didn't hurt."

Emotional season: Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos came to America in 2004 to chase his dream of playing Major League Baseball. But through the long visa process, his family had never been able to get here to see him play in person ... until this season. His parents recently secured a 10-year visa and finally got to see their son play a big-league game in person this homestand (Washington Times).

Rock and a hard place: "Moneyball" is coming to theaters soon, as I'm sure most of us have seen the previews during commercial breaks on TV by now. For those uninformed, it's a film adaptation of the book about A's general manager Billy Beane trying to build a team without the resources of a large-market club (or even a middle-market one). Beane hasn't really said anything about it, and Wednesday he explained why: "The hard thing for me has been figuring out how to walk this fine line," Beane said (Mercurynews.com). "If I embrace all this movie stuff, it looks like I'm really digging it. But if I put my hand up and say, 'No,' I look like I'm distancing myself from it. There's no playbook for this."

Old Style at Wrigley: Pabst brewing company nearly nixed a deal with Wrigley Field, where Cubs fans have been consuming Old Style beer since 1950, but tradition won out -- as the contract was extended through 2013. As a Cubs fan I can tell you that it's tradition to buy one and suck it down each time you attend a game -- even if it tastes like crap (it kind of does). (Chicago Breaking Sports)

Milwaukee loves 'Tony Plush:" Brewers outfielder Nyjer Morgan has become an unlikely popular player this season, and the T-shirt depicting his alter-ego -- "Tony Plush" -- outsells all other Brewers' T-shirts three-fold (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel). I wonder if Chris Carpenter wants one (click here if you don't get it)? I kid, but it would at the very least be a funny prank for a teammate to get him one.

Wild beats Man: A squirrel broke into the Indians' bullpen Wednesday night and closer Chris Perez attempted to capture it with his jacket. He lost, as the squirrel ran up the bullpen wall and jumped into the center-field bushes (Detroit Free-Press).

Happy Anniversary: On this day 25 years ago, Rafael Palmeiro made his major-league debut (Hardball Times). He'd go on to accumulate 3,020 hits, 569 home runs, nearly 2,000 RBI, a Gold Glove in a season when he only played 28 games in the field and one embarrassing display in front of Congress that has now been immortalized by Larry David.

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Posted on: September 8, 2011 12:28 am
Edited on: September 8, 2011 1:29 am
 

Morgan, Carpenter have words, benches empty


By C. Trent Rosecrans

Nyjer Morgan is one of those players that you hate if he's on another team and you love if he's on yours. He's not on the Cardinals.

Of course, Chris Carpenter has a lot of people who aren't too fond of seeing him in opposite colors, either.

Two of the most polarizing players came to a head Wednesday night in the ninth inning of the Cardinals' 2-0 victory in St. Louis as the two had words after Carpenter struck Morgan out to start the inning.

After the strikeout, you could see Morgan say something that ended with "you" toward Carpenter, then a couple of more words and Morgan threw his wad of chewing tobacco near the mound. That's when Albert Pujols came in from first base yelling at Morgan and then the benches emptied.

Afterward, Morgan told reporters he did indeed say something to Carpenter, but it started when Carpenter said the same two-word phrase to Morgan after the strikeout.

"They're not going to see that," Morgan told MLB.com, referring to the umpires and Carpenter's teammates. "They're going to see what I said."

They did, that's for sure.

"I actually like that guy, I don't mind having a guy like that on my team," Pujols told MLB.com. "He brings a lot of energy to the ball club, and you want to have a guy like that. But sometimes I think he goes [a little overboard] and tries to put too much energy. I remember when he came up with Pittsburgh, the guy just played the game, played hard all the time, never talks. And now you wonder why he's been on three different ball clubs the last year and a half, you know?"

Pujols' words were fair and his attitude fine.

Carpenter, though, tried to play innocent.

"I'm not going to play his game," Carpenter told MLB.com, even though he could be seen talking to Morgan, as well. "There's a certain way to compete and a certain way not to compete. He competes hard but he does it in a different manner, which is unfortunate because it takes away from what kind of player he is. He is a really good player."

Carpenter talks about "playing the right way" and says all the right stuff, but on the mound he agitates and pulls the same kind of thing that Morgan does. Carpenter has led the Cardinals' whining and complaining that has become a trademark of St. Louis baseball. Carpenter has instigated against other teams, yelled at opponents from the mound, thrown at batters (and claimed not to) and even admonished teammates on the field -- which is far from the "certain way to compete" Carpenter and the Cardinals often talk about after the games. 

Of course, Carpenter is just following the lead of the game's biggest self-proclaimed arbiter of baseball etiquette and behavior, Cardinals manager Tony La Russa. And La Russa had something to say about Morgan -- even if he said he wasn't going to have anything to say about Morgan:

"Rarely do I comment about another player, because it's not appropriate. Milwaukee should comment about their players and we should comment about ours," La Russa said after the game (from MLB.com) before going on to comment on Morgan. "But he is having a good year of them, he's a talented guy, but he's close to the edge as far as creating problems and trouble. It takes away from the player that he's been for them or wherever he's been with his fuse being so short and actually looking for things to instigate. So I hope he gets a clue. And he probably is going to get upset, or somebody will, that I gave advice, but it's the truth. It's the truth. He could be the player he is without the instigating."

Apparently Morgan didn't hear him or if he did, didn't take his advice. After the game, Morgan took to Twitter:

 


As much as I like Morgan's game and energy, going after Pujols and calling him a girl pronoun is silly, childish and stupid.

Even with the loss, the Brewers still lead the National League Central by 8.5 games and have a magic number of 11 with 18 games to go. The two teams don't face each other again this season.

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Posted on: August 18, 2011 10:06 am
 

Pepper: Down to two races?



By C. Trent Rosecrans

With just more than a month to go, we're down to just two races in baseball -- the National League West and the American League Central.

The rest? Done. Decided.

The National League East? The Phillies lead the Braves by 8 1/2 games. Done.

The National League Central? The Brewers are up on the Cardinals by seven, winning 19 of their last 21 and watching as the Cardinals take another September siesta. Done.

The National League wild card? It's the Braves to not just lose, but to give away in spectacular Cubian fashion. That's not happening. Done.

The American League East? Boston trails by a half-game, so the division is up in the air, but with Boston leading the Wild Card by eight games, both teams are playing in October, all that's left is figuring out seeding, the important stuff? Done.

The American League West? Texas has won its last six, including the last three in Anaheim against the Angels. Done.

At least we have the NL West and the AL Central -- those will at least be interesting for a while.

Looking back at last year at the same time, the Braves led the Phillies in the NL East, but both ended up in the playoffs. In the AL East, The Yankees and Rays were deadlocked atop the division, but again, both went to the playoffs. Sound familiar?

Minnesota had a four-game lead over the White Sox in the AL Central, a lead they'd hold, while the Rangers were running away from the Angels with an eight-game lead. Deja vu.

As for the NL Central? Cincinnati was leading the Cardinals by just two games, but St. Louis would fade down the stretch. And in the NL West, the Giants trailed the surprising Padres by five games.

Basically, it looks like we've seen this all before. But you know what? It was pretty fun to watch last year and it will be again this year.

Brewers confident: After Tuesday's win, Brewers outfielder Nyjer Morgan said the team has to "try to catch Philly," according to the Associated Press. "That's our goal, since we have nobody to really chase in our division, let's go chase Philly." After Wednesday's win, Zack Greinke said, "It's definitely not locked up now, but it's on us mainly," according to the Journal Sentinel. And he added, "it is ours to lose." It is indeed.

Giants' road to repeat: The Giants have the easiest remaining schedule among contenders, Yahoo's Jeff Passan writes as he breaks down the remaining schedules for the contenders (and the Cardinals, Rays and Angels). Passan also gives the Brewers more reason to be confident -- the third-easiest remaining schedule, plus the most off days and more home games than road games remaining. As for the AL Central, the Tigers have the best remaining schedule among the contenders. And not only are the Rays well behind both the Red Sox and Yankees in both the division and the wild card, they also have the toughest remaining schedule -- 10 against Boston, six against New York, six against Texas and four against Detroit.

Some people are just jerks: And online, they all have a voice. Randy Galloway of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram has proof -- sharing the emails he's gotten from people against the proposed statue of Shannon Stone and his son.

Logic may prevail: Although there were reports this weekend that Cubs general manager Jim Hendry's job was safe, but Sports Illustrated's Jon Heyman says that's not so certain. What you can blow $251.5 million on Carlos Zambrano, Milton Bradley, Alfonso Soriano and Kosuke Fukudome and have to worry about your job? Say it ain't so.

Five tool players: Every year I look forward to Baseball America's Tools issue -- and I got it in the mail yesterday. It's fascinating reading and also allows you to geek out about minor league players and what they could become. Over at FanGraphs, they feel the same way, but Carson Cistulli decided to find out which big leaguers have displayed five tools through the "nerdiest possible" numbers. It's great stuff. And if you didn't know, Chase Utley, Troy Tulowitzki and David Wright are good.

Speaking of tools: Former Reds and Nationals GM Jim Bowden never saw a tools-y player he didn't like. He has five players you should give up on -- starting with the Pirates' Pedro Alvarez. [ESPN.com]

CC's history lesson: Yankees starter CC Sabathia spent Tuesday morning at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, saying he drew inspiration from the visit for his start on Thursday in Minnesota. If you're ever in Kansas City, make sure you make it to the museum either before or after you go to Arthur Bryant's. [New York Times]

Tony Plush's kitty kat: Good for Brewers outfielder Nyjer Morgan, who adopted a new cat from the Wisconsin Humane Society. [Twitter]

Dim your jacket: Tuesday night the umpires working the A's-O's game had to ask two men with LED equipped clothing behind the plate to dim their wares. [Yahoo!'s Big League Stew]

Extending Ichiro?: Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times makes the argument against the Mariners extending Ichiro's contract.

Passport problems: Royals outfielder Jeff Francoeur will use his off day on Monday to get a new passport -- his old one expired after 10 years and he forgot about it. The Royals are scheduled to go to Toronto later that day. [Kansas City Star]

Hat flap: The National wanted to wear military hats in Tuesday's game, but Major League Baseball denied their request. Instead, the Nationals wore the hats during batting practice. The main reason? Well, ignore the jibber-jabber from MLB, it's that there was no money to be made, so they didn't want to do it. MLB told the Washington Post that it prefers to for teams to use patches or batting practice for such displays. [Washington Post's DC Sports Bog]

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Posted on: August 17, 2011 9:53 am
 

Pepper: Signing deadline needs to be moved up

Bubba Starling

By C. Trent Rosecrans

The last couple of days showed us some of the best of baseball, five walkoffs on Tuesday, Jim Thome's 600th home run on Monday, triple plays both Monday and Tuesday and so much more. But Monday night we saw one of the things that needs to be fixed, and that's the signing deadline for draft picks.

Yesterday I touched on this, but I suggested just moving it from midnight to a more reasonable hour. That was a selfish wish. Hall of Famer George Brett tells the Kansas City Star that the deadline needs to be moved up more than a month to something like July 4.

The reason is simple, the development of players is stunted by a year and the posturing could hurt players. According to Brett, the Royals and Scott Boras, the "advisor" for their top pick, Bubba Starling, didn't even start talking until 10:30 p.m. on Monday night. The two sides then agreed to a deal with 20-40 seconds left, Brett said.

"If they made the deadline July 4, these guys would sign July 4 and the guy would jump on the plane and play some real baseball rather than go to Arizona when the season is almost over after not picking up a ball and a bat for how long … and playing football … he's not baseball ready," Brett told the newspaper. "It's going to take him a while." 

Instead of playing baseball and cashing checks, Starling was working out with the Nebraska football team as a negotiating ploy, showing that he was "serious" that he'd turn down millions of dollars to play football. He was also risking injury and his future with no guarantee.

That said, with the way money was thrown around on Monday night, it seems to make little sense to sign early. The teams showed that players who wait to sign until the deadline will be rewarded. An agent I spoke to on Tuesday said he's had players sign early in the past -- which is all well and good for the teams, but did he do his players' a disservice by not waiting until the end? In his previous cases, no, it was still the right thing to do. But next time? When the 27th player picked gets $800,000 above slot, the waiting game pays. That's not going to change, the way to fix that it to shorten the wait.

Pirates' booty: Speaking of the draft signings, the Pirates spent $17 million in signing bonuses for their draft picks. While there are negatives, for Pittsburgh, this is a positive. For many years teams like the Royals and Pirates wouldn't draft the best available player in the draft, instead drafting the best available player that would fit into their budget. The Royals gave Bubba Starling a huge contract and the Pirates gave out several, including an $8 million signing bonus to No. 1 overall pick Gerrit Cole and $5 million for second-rounder Josh Bell. Last season we heard about how the Pirates weren't spending their luxury tax gains, but now we see an actual plan and owner Bob Nutting is putting money into the team. [MLB.com]

Right player, wrong position: Living in Cincinnati I've seen this before -- teams in MLB will often pick the best player available in the draft, regardless of position, now Yonder Alonso is in the big leagues with the Reds and has little to do because Joey Votto isn't going to sit the bench for him. The Nationals saw a player some considered to be the best in the draft fall to them and couldn't pass up Rice third baseman Anthony Rendon, despite already having a 26-year-old at third base in Ryan Zimmerman. The Nationals are happy to have Rendon and let that problem play out. [MASNSports.com]

Bundy eyes 2013: Orioles first-round pick Dylan Bundy said his plan is to be in the big leagues in 2013. The right-hander would be 20 in 2013. Brett would tell him if he was serious about that, he maybe should have signed sooner. [Baltimore Sun]

Overrated Howard: Baseball-Reference.com's Sean Forman made the argument in the New York Times that Philadelphia's Ryan Howard is not an elite hitter. The bigger argument was about overvaluing the RBI -- the stat that Howard provides much of Howard's worth. It does certainly help that he plays for the Phillies and has some pretty decent players in front of him in the lineup.

Umps visit kids: Jerry Meals may be Public Enemy No. 1 in Pittsburgh, but not to 3-year-old Emily Berger. Berger, who had undergone surgery on Monday, was one of the children visited by a group of MLB umpires to visit a children's hospital on Tuesday. Meals, who famously blew the call at home plate to end a 19-inning game in Atlanta for Pittsburgh loss, and the rest of his crew hosted a Build-A-Bear workshop for dozens of children. [Pittsburgh Tribune-Review]

Sizemore improving: The Indians hope Grady Sizemore can return next month after he started baseball activities on Tuesday as part of his rehab from a right knee injury and a sports hernia surgery. [MLB.com]

Granderson's rare feat: Curtis Granderson has a shot at leading the American League in homers and triples. The last player to do that was Jim Rice in 1978. [Baseball-Reference.com]

Mariners doing well: Jack Zduriencik won the offseason according to many before the 2010 season, and we saw how that worked. But even with that in hindsight, it appears Zduriencik has had a good couple of weeks despite his team's fall in the standings over the last two months. [Seattle Times]

More Thome: If you haven't had enough of Jim Thome (and really, it's not like we've even got to a tenth of the DJ3K madness yet), his hometown paper, the Peoria JournalStar put together a fantastic package looking back on his life and career. Make sure you check it out.

Give the people what they want: Nice job by the Brewers' promotion department with the announcement of  "Tony Plush Rally Towels" for the Sept. 9 game against the Phillies. "Tony Plush" is the "gentleman's name" of outfielder Nyjer Morgan. [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel]

Bashing Boise: No, not the Broncos and their "Smurf turf," but the city's Class A team -- Cubs owner Tom Ricketts said Boise's Memorial Stadium is "below standard." [Chicago Tribune]

Pros vs. G.I. Joes: Some White Sox players are playing video games with soldiers online. [MLB.com]

Hi, bye: Outfielder Jonny Gomes was traded from the Reds to the Nationals last month, but he wasn't informed until just before the Reds' game started, meaning he wasn't able to say goodbye to his teammates in Cincinnati. Now a member of the Nationals, Gomes got to say both hello and goodbye to the Reds when the team started their series in Washington. [Cincinnati Enquirer]

Cut those sideburns: Monday was the 20th anniversary of Don Mattingly sitting out a game for refusing to cut his hair. [MLB.com]

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Posted on: August 12, 2011 12:47 am
 

3 Up, 3 Down: Sans chicken wings, Cueto's back



By Matt Snyder


Johnny Cueto, Reds. Cueto had been rolling right along, sporting a 1.72 ERA and 0.98 WHIP through 16 starts. He was coming off a shutout when he was shelled by the Cubs last Saturday for seven hits and five earned runs in just 3 2/3 innings. What was wrong? Cueto said he had chicken wings and his stomach wasn't feeling right when he took the hill. So this time around he avoided the wings and got back on track. Thursday, Cueto worked seven shutout innings against the Rockies, giving up just three hits and walking two while striking out nine in a 2-1 victory. He trimmed his league-leading ERA down to 1.94.

St. Louis Cardinals. If the Cardinals lost this one, they'd have fallen six games back to a Brewers team that is playing as well as anyone right now. That isn't an insurmountable deficit, but it would be quite the climb. Starting pitcher Chris Carpenter was touched up for two runs in the top of the first, too, but after that everything fell into place for the Cardinals. Rafael Furcal and Albert Pujols hit first-inning homers to tie it. Pujols didn't let up, going 4-for-4 on the night with Matt Holliday sidelined. Carpenter labored at times, yet found a way to battle through eight innings without allowing a third run. Closer Fernando Salas worked a perfect ninth. The defense was actually good, too, as the Cardinals turned four double plays in the 5-2 win. They're still four games out and the Brewers are still the favorite, but this was a game the Cardinals needed in this race.

Mark Buehrle, White Sox. The veteran threw eight innings, allowing only six hits and three runs while walking none and striking out six. He picked up the win as the White Sox remained four games out in the AL Central, yet crept to within one of second-place Cleveland. While it was a good outing, Buehrle's in this spot because it marked his 18th stright start in which he allowed three runs or less (Mark Gonzales on Twitter). That guy gives his team a chance to win every single time he takes the ball. And he's talking retirement after this year as he's set to hit free agency. He's only 32.



Brad Mills, Blue Jays. This just in: Oakland isn't very good at offense. Entering Thursday, only the Mariners had scored fewer runs among AL teams. But the A's lit Mills up. He only lasted three innings, allowing five hits and six earned runs in a 10-3 Blue Jays' loss. Maybe the Man in White switched sides. I mean, guys don't just hit in that stadium without some kind of extra help, right?

Nationals in ninth. The Nationals loaded the bases with nobody out against fickle Cubs closer Carlos Marmol Thursday afternoon. The deficit was two and it appeared Marmol had no idea where any of his pitches were going. After an Ian Desmond strikeout -- in which he fought off several pitches out of the zone -- Wilson Ramos had an infield single to cut it to one. Brian Bixler followed with a check-swing strikeout before Rick Ankiel flew out to the warning track to end it. Of all the balls the Nats swung at in the ninth, I'm gonna guess about 35 percent were actually in the strike zone. Even their two hits were of the infield variety.

Nyjer Morgan, Brewers. I rarely have a problem with players on opposing teams having a shouting match. In fact, I quite prefer that kind of fire rather than befriending the opponents. It's supposed to be a competition. But when your teammates are telling you to stop, it's probably a bit ridiculous. According to multiple reporters (including Derrick Goold) at the game, the brief stoppage of play in the top of the eighth inning was due to Morgan yelling at Cardinals starter Chris Carpenter from the dugout. Teammates were reportedly trying to get him to stop and when the camera cut to home plate, Prince Fielder and Yadier Molina could actually be seen laughing about it. If the two clubs are at odds, that's competition. If there's only one guy yelling and everyone else is either telling him to stop or laughing, well, that's a bit out of whack.

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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