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Tag:Pepper
Posted on: August 22, 2011 9:35 am
 

Pepper: Pirates send small message with Tabata



By Matt Snyder


The Pirates announced Sunday that they agreed to terms with outfielder Jose Tabata. He'll be paid $14 million over the next six seasons, with options that could keep Tabata in Pittsburgh through 2019 (Associated Press). The deal buys out the remaining three years of arbitration, but that's not the important part -- which is that the Pirates made a long-term commitment to a young player.

Tabata, 23, has a .356 on-base percentage with 15 stolen bases and 44 runs this year in 75 games, serving mostly as the leadoff man.

He is certainly no Andrew McCutchen and he's been signed for a pretty cheap deal, but the signal is the same as it was when the Pirates were buyers at the trade deadline: These Pirates aren't a laughing matter anymore. No longer is ownership content to simply be a virtual Triple-A team, developing players only to have them traded or leave via free agency. When they lock up McCutchen, which I fully expect, the signal will be even louder. Granted, the Pirates will never be a large-market spender, but the increased attendance this season shows the fans are still there, should the team become a legitimate contender. Expect the Tabata deal to be the first of several.

Strasburg Watch: Nationals ace Stephen Strasburg will make his fourth rehab start Monday. He'll pitch for Class-A Hagerstown again, where he was shelled last time out. He was dominant in his first two outings, however, so Monday will be a good gauge to see if that was simply an off-day. He's going to be working toward four innings and 65 pitches (Nationals Journal). That's a huge sign, because from 65 pitches, a lot of pitchers jump to 80 next time. Presumably, 80 pitches is enough to get back to the bigs. Strasburg is scheduled to have a fifth rehab start August 27, but if everything goes well in these next two outings, that's likely all he'll need before joining the Nats.

Joe on A.J.: Yankees manager Joe Girardi and struggling starting pitcher A.J. Burnett appeared to exchange some pretty heated words Saturday night, but both Girardi and Burnett said the issue was Burnett's anger at the home plate umpire. Girardi reiterated that sentiment Sunday, but also noted Burnett is on shaky ground due to his pitching performance. "The reality is he needs to pitch better," Girardi said (New York Times baseball blog).

Pronk injured: Indians designated hitter Travis Hafner broke an 0-for-16 slump with a single late in Sunday's game, but when he rounded first base, he pulled up lame and limped his way to getting tagged out and back to the dugout. He has a right foot strain, which is a similar injury to one that kept him out for five games earlier in the season (MLB.com).

Time for revenge: It's been a while since the Rangers and Red Sox played. In fact, it was the first series of the season. Many of us may have forgotten the Rangers kicked the Red Sox teeth in for three games, sweeping them and outscoring them 26-11 in three games. It's the only team the Red Sox have played this season and not beaten. Reliever Daniel Bard certainly hasn't forgotten, though, as he said "we owe them something for the first series of the year," Sunday (BostonHerald.com). The two teams square off for a four-game series in Texas, beginning Monday.

Winded Grandyman: Yankees center fielder Curtis Granderson hit an inside-the-park home run at Minnesota Sunday, and he was a bit tired after the trip around the bases. “It was good until everyone wanted to talk,” Granderson said (LoHud). ” As we’re coming in, everyone was asking about it, and I couldn’t really talk too much.”

Action Jackson: Tigers center fielder Austin Jackson ended Sunday's game by throwing out the would-be tying run at home plate. A game-ending double play scored 8-2 hasn't happened since 1988 when Pirates center fielder Andy Van Slyke pulled it off, according to Baseball-Reference.com.

Swarzak in, Blackburn out: Twins starting pitcher Nick Blackburn injured his right forearm early in his start against the Yankees Sunday, and it looks like he's headed for the disabled list, as the Twins have already named a replacement in the rotation. Anthony Swarzak will get the spot (Around the Majors). Swarzak is 2-2 with a 3.16 ERA and 1.05 WHIP in five starts this season.

Love for Hendry: Recently-fired Cubs (former) general manager Jim Hendry has been beaten down pretty good in terms of fans, message boards, Twitter, etc. But you rarely hear anything bad about him as a person from his own players, media who know him personally or even opposing players. Former Cubs shorstop Ryan Theriot -- who Hendry traded last season -- joins in, calling Hendry a good person who has a good heart (Chicago Tribune).

Leyland tossed again: Tigers manager Jim Leyland had a pretty nice ejection Sunday, marking the fifth time in the past two months he's been run. The Detroit Free-Press has a list of the five ejections.

On this date: Mark McGwire made his big-league debut 25 years ago today. (Hardball Times)

Oh, Nails: Former Phillies and Mets outfielder Lenny Dykstra is currently serving time in prison because he filed for bankruptcy and then tried to sell off part of his estate for profit -- which is otherwise known as embezzlement -- and was also accused of lying under oath and trying to hide some of his assets from the bankruptcy court. Apparently, however, Lenny doesn't believe the law applies to him because he was good in the 1993 World Series. Seriously: Read his post by clicking here and let me know if I'm wrong, but I believe that's kind of his argument -- warning, the post has the grammar and spelling of an eight year old. The best part is that Dykstra is delusional enough to believe he's been targeted by a government that wants to redeem itself for the O.J. Simpson case by nailing a celebrity. I mean, you can't make this stuff up. It's amazing.

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Posted on: August 19, 2011 9:56 am
 

Pepper: Replay helps, but is hardly perfect



By C. Trent Rosecrans

See, now that's how replay's supposed to work -- maybe.

A day after the Yankees were the victim of a bad call (and worse replay) in Kansas City, the umpires in Minnesota went to the video once again for a Justin Morneau two-run homer in the first inning.

However, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire didn't agree.

"In my opinion, and this is what I told them: 'If one replay shows it could be fair and one replay shows it could be foul, and no one is really positive, how the heck do you change it?'" Gardenhire told reporters (via MLB.com). "I don't get that. They told me they saw a view on TV. But I could show three views right here where the ball disappears behind the pole. It just depends on the camera angle."

While I'm all for expanded replay, we must keep in mind it's not going to solve all of baseball's problems -- and the last two days have shown that.

Fair or foul? You be the judge (Yankees broadcast, Twins broadcast). It sure looked foul to me, but I understand the argument. It's what the NFL calls "incontrovertible visual evidence" and I'm not sure it's there. It's something to keep in mind, even with replay, humans are in charge and the chance for human error is always great, no matter what tools are at our disposal.

Hanley on hold: Marlins shortstop Hanley Ramirez may not return this season, Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post speculated. Ramirez sprained his left shoulder on Aug. 2 while chasing down a fly ball. Ramirez hasn't played since. He had surgery not he same shoulder following the 2007 season.

Quade safe?: Cubs owner Tom Ricketts has been supportive of embattled manager Mike Quade and when he talks to the media during a homestand starting today, it's expected he will support his manager. [Chicago Sun-Times]

Little slugger: I wrote about Indians infielder Jack Hannahan's son the other day, but if you missed it, go here. Anyway, Louisville Slugger sent the youngest Hannahan a bat with his name, birthday and birth weight on it. A cool gesture for Johnny Hannahan, whose dad also uses Louisville Sluggers. [Cleveland Plain Dealer]

Hanson on hold: Braves right-hander Tommy Hanson won't return from the disabled list on Tuesday as previously scheduled. The Braves aren't sure when they'll get him back from shoulder tendinitis, but it may not be too long. It looks like rookie Mike Minor will stay in the rotation, at least through Tuesday. [Atlanta Journal-Constitution]

Congrats?: Brewers infielder Craig Counsell was believed to have dodged setting the record for most consecutive at-bats without a hit recently when he snapped an 0-for-45 skid one hitless at-bat before the record set by Bill Bergen in 1909. However, the Elias Sports Bureau went back and found that Bergen's went 0 for 45, meaning Counsell and former big leaguer Dave Campbell tied Bergen for baseball's longest streak of futility. Campbell achieved the feat in 1973 while with the Padres, Cardinals and Astros. The original 0 for 46 mark was from Joe Dittmar, who had researched it as a piece on Bergen for the Society for American Baseball Reaserach in 1997. Dittmar went back to check his work and saw that he was off by one and Elias was right. So, congrats Counsell and Campbell, or probably more accurately to Bergen, who is no long alone with his streak. [New York Times]

Confidence is key: Toronto's Edwin Encarnacion said his belief in himself has been able to get him through another difficult year. It looked as if Encarnacion might be the odd man out when the Jays were set to promote Brett Lawrie at the end of June, but since Lawrie broke his hand and his call up was delayed. Since June 28, Encarnacion has hit .325/.414/.580 with nine home runs and cut down his strikeouts to 25 with 22 walks over that time. He's also been helped by being taken off third base where he's struggled throughout his career with consistency -- making the really difficult plays and botching the easy ones. [Toronto Star]

Please stay Rays: St. Petersburg mayor Bill Foster said Thursday that he has a "detailed plan" to keep the Rays in St. Pete, but refused to disclose any details. The city clerk said she knew nothing about it, but Foster claims it exists. Don't get too excited about this plan, though, while he didn't spill any beans, he did "clarify" that his "detailed plan" may not include a new stadium. [Tampa Tribune]

Hold on: The Nationals' Tyler Clippard has a pretty good shot at breaking the holds record this year. If you can't quite remember who currently holds it, you're forgiven -- it's not like we're talking about Babe Ruth's home run record (I kid). Clippard got his 32nd hold last night and has a decent shot at breaking Luke Gregerson's record of 40 set way back in 2010. [Baseball-Reference.com]

M.C. Doc Halladay?: Rapper Game references Phillies ace Roy Halladay on his new album. That's all. Just found it interesting and liked the mental image Dave Brown gives of Halladay at the Source Awards. [Yahoo's Big League Stew]

Making dad proud: The other day I teased Reds scouting director Chris Buckley about the team's pick of his son, Sean, in the sixth round. Another team official was there and rightfully noted, "nepotism picks comes in the 40s, not the sixth round." They're right -- and early in his career, Sean Buckley is proving him right. Buckley has 13 home runs already in short-season Class A with the Billings Mustangs, including one that cleared the batter's eye in center field. [MiLB.com]

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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]

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
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 16, 2011 9:49 am
Edited on: August 16, 2011 9:54 am
 

Pepper: Thome's quiet run to the Hall of Fame

Jim Thome

By C. Trent Rosecrans

I don't think there's any doubt Jim Thome will be in the Hall of Fame, but I did find it interesting that my wife had never heard of Thome.

The guy hits 600 home runs and the wife of someone whose life revolves around baseball had never heard of him. How is that possible? I thought chicks dug the long ball. 

Much of it, I guess, is that my wife is a National League kinda gal -- having been born in raised in  Braves country and now living in Cincinnati, the wife doesn't see much American League or even pay much attention to it. But still, Jim Thome?  I went through the teams -- Indians, Phillies, White Sox, Dodgers, Twins -- nope, not a flicker of recognition. The 1995 World Series when the Braves won? Well, He did only go 4 for 19 in the series.

It seems strange that she'd never heard of him, but it also seems to jibe with the relative silence of Thome's march to 600. Is it because Thome has always just been a quiet professional? He's never been in trouble, never even pounded his own chest. He's just been quietly hitting home runs and doing his job, day in and day out.

It's not that he's never been on the biggest stage, he's played in 67 postseason games and made it to two World Series, hitting one homer in 1995 and two in the '97 Series.

My friend Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus has a funny theory of the Hall of Fame -- for him it's all about the fame. If his mother has heard of someone, they belong. If she hasn't, no. So for KG's Hall of Fame, Paul Molitor is out, but Jose Canseco is in. Rod Carew? Nope. Bo Jackson, yes. I'm pretty sure Thome doesn't hit the fame standard, but he certainly belongs in the Hall.

Here's a couple of better articles putting his candidacy in perspective -- Joe Posnanski of Sports Illustrated has the backstory of Thome's bat point at the pitcher and other things in a great blog post and Steven Goldman has the argument against Thome being a mere "compiler."

Meals in Pittsburgh: Umpire Jerry Meals made his first appearance at PNC Park in Pittsburgh since his bad call that cost the Pirates a 19-inning game against the Braves. As you would expect, he was not greeted kindly by Pirates fans. Since the call, the Pirates have lost 15 of 19 and fallen from a tie for first place to fourth place in the National League Central. [Pittsburgh Tribune-Review]

Silly deadline: I understand why there's a deadline for signing draft picks and I even understand why it's in August, but I don't understand why it's at midnight. I talked to a scouting director on Sunday (and because it wasn't the Blue Jays' scouting director, he signed his first-round guy) and he said there's zero movement until late on Monday. On Sunday, there'd been no movement, but because these things go down to the wire, why not make move the wire up to a reasonable hour? How about 5 p.m. so you can announce it before a game and have everything all tidy? They've done that with the trade deadline, now with the increased focus on the draft, they need to do it on the signing deadline.

Full moon in Cooperstown: Did Robin Yount give Bert Blyleven an unusual greeting to the Hall of Fame? [FanGraphs.com

Scranton is nice in September: Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said it's unlikely the team would call up top pitching prospect Manny Banuelos when rosters expand in September. [New York Post]

Nicasio visits teammates: Juan Nicasio, who suffered a broken neck on Aug. 5, visited his Rockies teammates before Monday's game in Denver. Closer Houston Street told the Denver Post that Nicasio was "full of life," smiling and laughing with teammates. 

Career cut short: A Padres  prospect had to retire from baseball at 22 because of an inner-ear problem. Read all about Drew Cumberland. [Pensacola News-Journal]

Another good guy: This seems to fit with the Thome celebration, but if Thome's not the nicest guy in the game, Torii Hunter may be. Like Thome, I've never heard anyone say a bad thing about Hunter. In fact, I have a sportswriter friend who has a long list of people he doesn't like, but he named his dog Torii in honor of Hunter. Here's a good story about one of the good guys from ESPN.com's Jim Caple.

Read this: A really good story this weekend from the New York Daily News about baseball and Sept. 11. Go read it.

It's gotta be the shoes: Evan Longoria's new spikes have made a huge difference for the Rays' third baseman. [MLB.com]

Literary touch: I've only been to Safeco once (well, three games, one series), so I don't know all the ins and outs. I will say I love the park, but maybe even more so after seeing this from the Boston Globe's Peter Abraham -- the park has baseball-themed quotations on all its gates to the park. That's just so darn cool.

Murph blogs: One of the most interesting baseball blogs around right now is from former MVP Dale Murphy, who is enjoying blogging and Twitter. [New York Times]

New caps: Gone, apparently, are the ugly stars and stripes trucker caps to make a buck, and in their place for Sept. 11 will be simple American flag patches. It's certainly an improvement, but still not sure why everyone needs to be reminded what country they live in -- shouldn't the butchered version of the Star Spangled Banner by some American Idol-wannabe before the game be enough? 

New caps 2: That said, I do think it's cool that the Nationals will wear a cap with the Navy SEALs logo tonight to honor the 22 SEALs killed in Afghanistan on Aug. 6. It's the Nationals' first game back in Washington since the attack. [Washington Post]

Odd sight: There was something odd on Sunday in Dayton, Ohio -- empty seats. Home of professional sports' longest sellout streak, Dayton's Fifth Third Field had empty seats on Sunday as the Dragons and Lake County Captains played a continuation of Tuesday's suspended game was played before the regularly scheduled Sunday game. However, once that game started, the Dragons had their 832nd consecutive sellout. [Dayton Daily News]

Step back for Carter: Sad news today, as Gary Carter learned of a "mild step backward" on Monday, as a doctor's visit revealed his white blood cell count was low, which means he won't be able to start a scheduled round of chemotherapy that he was supposed to start today. [ESPN.com]

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Posted on: August 15, 2011 10:21 am
 

Pepper: Gordon wants to stay in Kansas City

Gordon
By Evan Brunell

STAY OR GO:
Alex Gordon's had a long, tough road in Kansas City. He arrived in town with expectations of being the next George Brett, and struggled to reach those expectations while adjusting to the major leagues. For a few years there, the third baseman was looking like a colossal bust, but he switched to left field and broke out this year at age 27 and has had a fantastic year leading off.

Gordon isn't a free agent until after 2013, but is already eager to sign a long-term extension to stay a Royal.

“Staying here?” Gordon told the Kansas City Star. “Heck, yeah. I love it here. I love the guys here. I love being close to home. I love the fans. I love everything about this place.”

Gordon noted that the team and GM Dayton Moore has already indicated they want to wait until after the season to discuss a long-term deal. Making just $1.4 million, that number is sure to rise, if not double, through arbitration. The Royals may want to wait another season to see if Gordon's newfound production is real, even if it's at the risk of a spiking salary through arbitration. There's no real rush here -- Kansas City's payroll started the year under $40 million after cracking $70 million the last few years. With that kind of flexibility at hand and no massive contracts due anytime soon, the Royals may want to exercise their flexibility to gauge Gordon for another season.

Working in Gordon's favor is that he's ready to help immediately and can be a linchpin of the team's transition to a young crop, which doesn't include a deep outfield. Lorenzo Cain appears ready to take over center field and Wil Myers is developing nicely in the outfield after transitioning from catcher and should be in the majors within a year or two, but that's about it. K.C. drafted outfielder Bubba Starling, who has yet to sign, but even if he does, his outlook is so far away it shouldn't have any impact on Gordon's possibilities to stick with Kansas City.

WAIVER WIRE
: A development on the waiver wire is that left-handed relievers are having a heck of a time clearing waivers, which is no big surprise when you consider that the big dogs of the Red Sox, Yankees, Phillies and other contenders are on the hunt for such help. (Boston Globe)

REHABBING A-ROD: Alex Rodriguez participated in a simulated game on Thursday, taking 13 at-bats and playing three innings in the field. He's currently slated to return to the Yankees on Thursday. (New York Post)

PLAY OR SIT: Magglio Ordonez's time as a productive hitter is winding to an end, and he's mired in a deep slump thus far in August, dragging his batting average to .223. Manager Jim Leyland isn't ready to sit Ordonez entirely, but did admit that he will pick and choose which pitchers Ordonez will face. (Detroit Free Press)

NEW MINDSET
: Carlos Pena may not be around to see it, but he knows what his club needs to do to move on -- adopt a new mindset, freeing the Cubs from the same old malaise. “It’s just viewing ourselves in a different light, wearing the uniform with pride, just all those personal things that (should be) ingrained in us,” Pena told CSNChicago.com.

BACK IN OAKLAND: Athletics manager Bob Melvin says if he returns to manage the team in 2012, he wants DH Hideki Matsui back. That's easy to say, when Matsui has been scorching hot since the All-Star break, but it's instructive to note that even with the hot streak, Matsui's overall line is .264/.338/.408. (San Francisco Chronicle)

CARD WARS: Topps and Leaf are embroiled in a legal battle over baseball cards, as Leaf is using Topps baseball cards to promote a new line of cards from Leaf. If you buy a "2011 Best of Baseball" set from Leaf, you receive one new, original Leaf card as well as a bonus card, which is turning out to be iconic Topps cards. (TMZ.com)

BAUER POWER? Jason Marquis is out for an extended period of time after fracturing his shin in Sunday's start. There's speculation that Trevor Bauer, who was drafted this past June, could potentially replace Marquis. (Arizona Republic)

CLEARED: Royals catcher Matt Treanor has passed the last hurdle in his recovery from a concussion and can now return to game action. A rehab stint in the minors is likely. (Kansas City Star)

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: August 12, 2011 9:46 am
 

Pepper: Giants, Marlins meet again

Buster Posey

By C. Trent Rosecrans
 

Just when we thought we'd heard the end of the Buster Posey injury, the Giants are headed to South Florida.

For the first time since May, the Marlins and Giants will meet. You may remember Scott Cousins ran over Posey and ended the season of the reigning Rookie of the Year. In May, the Giants talked about Cousins, retribution and the rest. Well, that's not going to be a problem.

"We've moved on," Bruce Bochy told reporters, including Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News. "We have bigger things to be worried about. That's trying to win and get to the postseason. What happened is behind us."

After a 3-7 home stand, the Giants take to the road as the second-place team in the National League West, a half-game behind the Diamondbacks.

Also, Cousins won't be a target, because he's on the 60-day disabled list with a back injury.

The Giants say they've moved on, so maybe we all can as well. Or at least let's hope.

(Also, that's just an awesome picture from Jason O. Watson of US Presswire.) 

Signs, signs, everywhere there's signs: Blue Jays fans had some fun with the report of Toronto stealing signs. The Star in Toronto has a good photo gallery of signs the fans brought to Thursday's game.

Fast company: Justin Verlander recorded his 100th win on Thursday in his 191st career start, making him the 13th fastest to the 100-win mark since 1919. [Baseball-Reference.com]

Holliday break:  St. Louis outfielder Matt Holliday missed his second consecutive game with a back injury on Thursday, but may be ready to play Friday. Holliday is unlikely to go on the DL. [MLB.com]

Good Reed: The Cubs may be having another rough season, but outfielder Reed Johnson is having an outstanding year. He's hitting .349/.389/.566 with five homers in 75 games. In five starts since coming back from back stiffness, Johnson has gone 11 for 21 and is making himself part of next season's plans. However, he is a free agent after this season. [Chicago Sun-Times]

Vandy bound: Blue Jays first-rounder Tyler Beede will not sign with the Blue Jays, Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com reports. Beede, a right-handed starter, told teams before the draft that he wasn't going to sign, but the Blue Jays took a chance on him. He will be eligible to be drafted again in 2014.

Real fight: Usually baseball fights are millabouts with some shoving and little else. Not in the independent North American Baseball League. The league infamous for Jose Canseco and the Lake County Fielders, has another claim to shame -- the fight between former big leaguers Mike Marshall (the manager of the Chico Outlaws) and Tony Phillips. From the Los Angeles Times, here's the fight in which the 51-year-old Marshall suffered facial injuries.

Cop unhappy with Rays: The Cop from the Village People isn't happy with the Tampa Bay Rays. Victor Willis said he's planning on suing the Rays "within the next 30 days" for misappropriating his voice and image. The Village People performed after a Rays game last season and used video of the band performing YMCA in 1978 to promote the post-game concert. Problem is, Willis left the band in 1984 and he wasn't performing. Willis wrote the band's hits and doesn't need to perform to earn money, as he earns more than $1 million a year from royalties from YMCA alone, not to mention Macho Man, Go West and In the Navy. [St. Petersburg Times]

No pinch-hitter for Dunn: White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said he's not going to pinch-hit for Adam Dunn, even though he's thought about it. Guillen said he'll consider sitting Dunn against left-handed starters, but keep him in the games he starts. [Chicago Tribune]

Welcome back: Left-hander Brian Matusz is pitching well in Triple-A Norfolk and could be back on his way to Baltimore in short order, manager Buck Showalter told reporters. [MLB.com]

Progressive Ice: Cleveland's Progressive Field will host the Michigan-Ohio State hockey game this winter. The ballpark started Snow Days last year with a quarter-mile ice skiing track and a tubing hill. Both will be back, but they're also be a hockey rink. [New York Times]

Coming up short: Just about every game you'll hear a fan or radio announcer groan when an outfielder pulls up and lets a ball bounce in front of him. You know why he does that? Because he's not Alfonso Soriano. As soon as I saw the way Alfonso Soriano play Ian Desmond's leadoff double in the top of the eighth inning on Thursday, I thought, "that's why you pull up." Desmond turned Soirano's bad judgement into a double. It wasn't in MLB.com's highlights (or lowlights) but it's just another in the long list of Soriano's fielding mishaps.

Cactus bringing jack: A cactus statue signed by all of this year's All-Stars is being auctioned off on MLB.com with proceeds going to the cancer charities. [MLB.com]

Great news: Finally, a personal note. You may not know Dave Cameron, a writer for FanGraphs and USS Mariner, but Dave's recently been diagnosed with leukemia. Anyway, Dave's completed his first round of chemotherapy and there's no more leukemia in his body. He'll still have to go through more chemo and will be in the hospital for another week or so, but this is great news. [FanGraphs]

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: August 10, 2011 10:28 am
Edited on: August 10, 2011 10:28 am
 

Pepper: Where will Bubba Starling end up?

Starling

By Evan Brunell

TOUGH DECISION: Bubba Starling has a choice -- accept a hefty bonus and head to the minor leagues for a few years in the hope he can rise up the ladder and join the Royals. The hometown athlete was drafted by Kansas City in June but he has yet to sign with the deadline coming up on Monday. Starling has a tough decision to make -- join K.C. or head to the Nebraska Cornhuskers, where fame as a quarterback awaits.

“It’s a win-win situation,” Starling told the Kansas City Star.

Starling was at the University of Nebraska signing autographs and fans obviously were rooting for Starling to opt to join the Cornhuskers. The problem is, that's a lot of money for Starling to give up to play football, a sport that's more dangerous to overall long-term health.

“If it was my son, I’d probably tell him to play baseball,” fan Kevin Sullivan said. “But, you know, if he’s going to play Nebraska football …” (Kansas City Star)

BIZARRE INJURY
: There's always a few injuries each season that make you do a double-take. Chris Narveson was a victim of such an injury, slicing his thumb with scissors while trying to repair his glove. He required eight stitches and will miss his next start. (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)

BACK TO SCHOOL: Zachary Houchins, the Nationals' 15th round pick, is heading back to college. “I haven’t had [contact with the Nationals] any since all that stuff happened,” Houchins said. “I’m set on going back to school. ... I’m happy with it. I’d love to go back there.”

Houchins is referring to epithets used to describe African-Americans, homosexuals and Chinese on his Twitter feed in June, since deleted. The Nationals were upset with his words, which Houchins admitted they had a right to be. Houchins added, though, that the comments weren't hateful and just part of how he and his friends (many African-American) talk.

“Honestly, in my eyes, there was no lesson to learn,” Houchins said. “It’s just what I said got blown out of proportion, and I paid the price for it.” (Washington Post)

CLUTCH: Matthew Leach runs through a list of players who have been clutch so far this season. The one thing that caught my eye is Asdrubal Cabrera's performance with the bases loaded -- a pristine 6 for 6. (MLB.com)

INJURY PROBLEMS: Paul Konerko's left calf strain has made lineup maneuverings tough for skipper Ozzie Guillen, and if the White Sox had gone into extra innings last night, would have done so without a DH when Konerko was pinch-run for by Brent Lillibridge, with Lillibridge moving to first for the ninth. (Chicago Tribune)

LYNN, TOO: Cardinals reliever Lance Lynn strained his left oblique in Tuesday's game and will hit the disabled list, depriving the team of one of its most dependable late-inning relievers. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

SURGERY: Reds shortstop Zack Cozart is likely to undergo surgery to repair a hyperextended left elbow, and would prefer to get it over with sooner rather than later. (Cincinnati.com)

LOPEZ ... HEPING? There's a piece up today about Felipe Lopez, who supposedly doing well in Milwaukee after coming over from Tampa Bay, starting nine of the last 10 games. How someone hitting .235/.289/.235 in 34 at-bats (which was conveniently omitted from the story) is doing well is not clear. (MLB.com)

LAST RING: Bengie Molina was at the Rangers game on Tuesday, collecting his AL championship ring -- the last ring Texas needed to hand out. He also threw out the first pitch and told his ex-teammates not to waste their strong season. (Ft. Worth Star-Telegram)

SANTO STATUE: The Cubs will unveil a statue of Ron Santo on Wednesday. In the article, an interesting tidbit: Kerry Wood only returned to the Cubs because he ran into GM Jim Hendry at Santo's funeral in December. (Chicago Tribune)

ILLEGAL BALLS: An independent baseball team, the Lake County Fielders, had a game suspended Friday night for claims that the team provided inferior baseballs to be used. These baseballs were not sanctioned for professional use, but were still brand new and purchased from a sporting goods store. In financial trouble, the team hadn't placed its order to Rawlings for the baseballs until it was too late, and umpires decided the baseballs weren't acceptable. League officials have since approved their usage. (DailyHerald.com)

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

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com