Tag:Yu Darvish
Posted on: October 28, 2011 11:22 pm
Edited on: October 29, 2011 12:14 am
 

R.I.P: 2011 Texas Rangers

RangersBy Evan Brunell

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: Texas Rangers
Record: 96-66, AL West champions, AL champions. Lost World Series, 4 games to 3.
Manager: Ron Washington
Best hitter: Mike Napoli -- .320/.414/.631 in 369 AB, 25 2B, 30 HR, 75 RBI
Best pitcher: C.J. Wilson -- 16-7, 233 1/3 IP, 2.94 ERA, 74 BB, 206 K

2011 SEASON RECAP
R.I.P. series
The Rangers kicked off defending their 2011 AL pennant by racing out to a 16-11 start that sent the tone for the entire season. Leading up to the start of the year, the Rangers were a bit overlooked. While only a few were giving the Angels a real shot at contention, much of the offseason talk was about the Athletics who looked like they were cobbling together a decent enough offense to support the strong young pitching, but it was all Texas, all the time, although the team needed to work through kinks from May to June, posting a 27-28 record in these two months, with closer Neftali Feliz baffingly struggling in his followup to 2010, when he saved 40 games as a rookie.

But then July hit, and the Rangers took off with an 18-9 month that saw a 12-game winning streak, plus scoring 20 runs on the 25th against the hapless Twins. Texas punctuated the season with its best month of the season with a hot September, finishing the month with a 19-6 record and running away from Los Angeles with the division. In the playoffs, they dominated the Rays, winning the ALDS in four games, the only series that didn't go the maximum five. They rode several huge performances in the ALCS to victory over Detroit, bouncing the Tigers in six. In the World Series, the Rangers had a 3-2 series lead and took the lead many times in Game 6 but couldn't hold on for the victory as Ron Washington outmanaged himself. Two straight AL pennants and nothing to show for it.

2012 AUDIT

The Rangers will lose ace C.J. Wilson from its staff, but that's the only major free agent the team has. That's great news, but Texas won't have much payroll flexibility with several deals jumping in salary and quite a few arbitration cases. The club needs to find a way to replace Wilson in the rotation while looking to improve other facets of the team. Mitch Moreland seems to be squeezed out at first -- he's hardly deserving of a starting job next season and if the club wants to get Michael Young and Mike Napoli full-time at-bats, Moreland's gotta go. The bullpen, depending on how Texas approaches its rotation, will need fortifying too. Otherwise, the offense as a whole is pretty set.

FREE AGENTS

Colby Lewis (team option: $3.25 million)
Matt Treanor, C
Brandon Webb, SP
C.J. Wilson, SP

OFFSEASON FOCUS
  • Shift Neftali Feliz to the rotation. Feliz has the ability to start, and the chance of him evolving into an ace can't be discounted. With a poor free-agent market, the Rangers have to replace Wilson internally or via trade, and Feliz is the path of the least resistance -- and also the one with the most payoff. Alexi Ogando should also be penciled into the rotation, which should also have Colby Lewis and Derek Holland in it, with Scott Feldman and Matt Harrison duking it out for the final spot.
  • With Feliz gone, the Rangers need to find another reliever. It doesn't have to be a closer, as the club could elevate Mike Adams into the role, but they need to find either a strong closer or strong setupman. If money is a problem, the club should elevate Adams and ink one of Jason Frasor, Chad Qualls, Jon Rauch or Takashi Saito. Signing a left-handed reliever is also a must, as Darren Oliver and Mike Gonzalez are set to be free agents. Oliver is a no-brainer to return, and Gonzalez makes a lot of sense as he can dial up the fastball more than Oliver. If Gonzalez departs, Javier Lopez or George Sherrill could make sense.
  • If Yu Darvish is available, go all out to get him. The Rangers will have some money coming off the books soon with Michael Young and with two consecutive World Series, will have additional revenue as well as a need to keep the team producing. Darvish would be a perfect add, especially in light of Wilson's departure.
  • Keep Mitch Moreland, but make him a bench player. The Rangers need to give full-time at-bats to Young and Napoli, and Torrealba deserves to play over Moreland given he can catch and give Napoli breaks at first and DH. Moreland can't hit lefties, but he can fill in against righties when Young shifts to play second, third or short as a backup, freeing up first for Moreland. If the team gets a solid trade offer for the first baseman in exchange for a reliever, the club should pounce.
  • That's it. Really. The Rangers have a pretty settled team. They simply need to find a way to withstand Wilson's loss and stand pat otherwise. This is a team that's been to the World Series two years in a row with many of its principals locked up and/or young. One player the club should try to extend this offseason is Nelson Cruz, set to be a free agent after 2013. Texas should hold off on Mike Napoli and Josh Hamilton, both who are slated to become free agents after 2012. With Napoli's scorching 2011 and Hamilton's injury issues, the club would be better off to wait and see on these players.
For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 21, 2011 1:43 pm
Edited on: October 22, 2011 7:03 pm
 

Free-agent position rankings: Sabathia heads SP



By Evan Brunell


As you're going to quickly realize after going through the position-by-position rankings of free agents, the market is rather poor this year. There are a couple of intriguing options at any spot, but the overall quality and depth is severely lacking. That could lead to a healthy trade market. But these players have to sign somewhere. Let's take a look at the top 20 starting pitchers and what to expect in the market...

Sabathia1. C.C. Sabathia: Sabathia may not fetch what Cliff Lee did a year ago, but there's no arguing against the lefty here as one of the best pitchers in the game. Despite his weight, Sabathia has been extraordinarily durable and there are zero questions surrounding his ability to pitch in a big-league game. He has yet to have a transcendent season as a Yankee, but is always right there in the discussion for Cy Young votes. It's hard to imagine Sabathia not doing better than four years and $92 million, which is what is remaining on his deal.
Potential teams: Yankees, Angels, Rangers, Red Sox

Wainwright2. Adam Wainwright: It's difficult to imagine the Cardinals declining their 2012 and 2013 options on Wainwright, but if they do, he'll get a pretty good deal in free agency. Waino may be coming off Tommy John surgery, but the right-hander was one of the best pitchers in the game before injury and all indications have Wainwright's rehab being completely normal. If he hit the market, he would do rather well for himself, even beyond the $21 million due him in the options. That, or he would get a pricey one-year deal to re-establish his value. If Waino hits the market, teams will be throwing themselves after him.
Potential teams: Cardinals, Yankees, Red Sox, Rangers, Angels, Nationals

Wilson3. C.J. Wilson: Wilson has the numbers for a significant salary after posting a 2.94 ERA on the season in 223 1/3 innings pitched, but many around the game view him as more of a mid-rotation starter, which could depress his value.  While Wilson will never be an ace, those that are calling him a No. 3/4 long-term seem to be going overboard a bit. Over the last two years, Wilson has proven he should be considered a No. 2/3 team and this is someone who figures to see his market heat up once push comes to shove. Wilson has long been linked to one of the Los Angeles' teams given that's where he grew up, but he'll be looking for as much money as he can get.
Potential teams: Rangers, Angels, Dodgers, Yankees, Red Sox, Royals, Blue Jays, Nationals, Marlins

Kuroda4. Hiroki Kuroda: Kuroda is a fantastic pitcher, but also extremely loyal. He truly bleeds Dodger blue and many reports have him uninterested in pitching for any other MLB team. In fact, he is considering a return to Japan should the Dodgers not be interested, but they would be crazy to let Kuroda go. He's willing to work on a short-term contract and can be an important front-line starter as the Dodgers limp along in an uncertain financial future. Los Angeles could potentially see both Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp depart as free agents after 2012, so the Dodgers will be motivated to get as strong a team together as they can for 2012.
Potential teams: Dodgers, Japan

Buerhle5. Mark Buehrle: The left-hander has sort of flown under the radar when it comes to free agency, but Buerhle could be in line for a big payday if he doesn't restrict himself. Buerhle has long thought to be only interested in playing for the White Sox or his hometown Cardinals. However, Chicago seems to want to "play the kids," and might prefer the compensation picks that would come with Buerhle. If the Cardinals extend Albert Pujols, they won't have the money for Buerhle, so he may have to look elsewhere for a job. He won't have difficulty finding one, topping 200 innings a season for the 11th straight season, starting as a rookie.
Potential teams: White Sox, Cardinals, Red Sox, Yankees, Angels, Dodgers, Marlins, Rangers

Jackson6. Edwin Jackson: Jackson has been around the block, already pitching for his sixth team despite being 28 years old. He'll be looking for security and money in what will be the richest contract he'll ever get, which could open up some players beyond the top teams. Jackson is a No. 4 starter who tantalizes with No. 3 potential, which will be enough to get teams to open up their checkbooks once the bigger names on the market are gone. Jackson may not be a sexy pitcher, but plenty of teams recognize the fact that without depth in the rotation, there's nothing.
Potential teams: Cardinals, Angels, Dodgers, Marlins, Royals, Twins, Rangers, Cubs, Nationals, Rockies

Oswalt7. Roy Oswalt: Oswalt has threatened retirement and his back problems plagued his season in Philadelphia, so it would be a surprise to see his $16 million option exercised by the Phillies. Oswalt is certainly entering the phase in his career where he's going to be working on short-term injuries, especially with his back problems. It's difficult to imagine the righty deciding to hang up his cleats just yet, so should resurface somewhere on a one- or two-year deal. The Rangers, who figure to lose Wilson, could have interest in Oswalt to bring him back to Texas and have him mentor its young players.
Potential teams: Astros, Rangers, Phillies, Cardinals, Detroit, Angels, Dodgers

Dempster8. Ryan Dempster: Dempster holds a $14 million player option and it's hard to imagine him doing any better on the free-agent market on an annual basis, so you can expect this option to be picked up. If he does choose free agency, he'll command a contract similar to Edwin Jackson. The righty's ERA soared to 4.80 this season, but his peripherals were still strong, so you can bet on a bounceback season. Even though he will turn 35 next May, Dempster has shown to be very durable. There won't be any shortage of suitors for Dempster.
Potential teams: Cubs, Red Sox, Yankees, Angels, Dodgers, Blue Jays, Marlins

Hisashi Iwakuma9. Hisashi Iwakuma: Iwakuma tried to come stateside last season, but when the Athletics won his rights via the posting system, talks fell apart between GM Billy Beane and Iwakuma's agent, Don Nomura. The lefty will be an actual free agent this season, not bound by posting rights, so any team will be able to talk with Iwakuma. That should help his market, and as a left-hander with strong control, would play well in a pitcher's park. Iwakuma will likely fly under the radar as teams like Boston and New York seek more sure things.
Potential teams: Dodgers, Angels, Mariners, Nationals

Bedard10. Erik Bedard: Bedard slogged through yet another injury-plagued season but when he was on the mound, pitched rather well for the Mariners and Red Sox. His market will be depressed by his constant injuries, but at the same time, he's shown that he can still be an important part of the rotation and if he could get a full season's worth of starts for the first and only time since 2006, whatever deal he ends up signing will be a steal. Bedard will likely fall into the hands of a market that couldn't afford to sign any of the better free agents.
Potential teams: Cardinals, Mariners, Orioles, Blue Jays, Royals, Diamondbacks, Rockies, Brewers, Tigers

Vazquez11. Javier Vazquez: Will he retire or won't he? While it sounds like the righty could be departing, the second-half he had was incredible for Florida. It showed that Vazquez may finally return to normal after his second stint in New York went terribly and he looked kaput in the early going down south. If Vazquez does return, he's going to have a very short list of teams he will pitch for, and it may only have the Marlins on it. If he considers other teams, bet on it being in the NL.
Potential teams: Marlins, Nationals

Colon12. Bartolo Colon: Colon had a nice resurgence in New York before tailing off. What he did will easily secure him another go-round with a team, but it's probably not going to be back with New York. Given what his market will be, virtually any team could be in play for Colon. We're entering the part of the starting pitching market in which these pitchers will start seeing their market develop once the top names come off the board. From hereon out, you're more likely to see small-market teams or those with an outside shot at contending come into play for these type of pitchers.
Potential teams: Padres, Orioles, Tigers, Royals, Indians, Angels, Mets, Marlins, Pirates, Diamondbacks, Astros

Capuano13. Chris Capuano: Capuano's market got a bit of an uptick as the season wound to a close given the Red Sox's attempt to acquire him for the final game of the season. Other than coming back as a reliever late in the year for the Brewers last season, Capuano hasn't been heard of since 2007. The 33-year-old showed that he still had plenty left in the tank, and, in fact, had his best season yet according to the advanced pitching metric xFIP. Plenty of NL teams, and even some AL teams, will kick the tires on Cappy.
Potential teams: Mets, Dodgers, Padres, Cubs, Royals, Twins, Red Sox

Chen14. Bruce Chen: Like Capuano, Chen has rebuilt his value the last couple of years. He came off a solid 2010 with the Royals into a free-agent market that had no interest in him, probably because there wasn't any idea if Chen could repeat his season. Well, he did, so he should be looking at a couple two-year offers on his plate this winter, and could attract attention from some wannabe contenders. Chen is still a risk, but there's a lot to like here as a backend starter.
Potential teams: Mets, Dodgers, Pirates, Royals, Diamondbacks, Padres, Marlins, Athletics, Astros

Maholm15. Paul Maholm: The Pirates hold rights to Maholm for one year at $9.75 million, but Pittsburgh is expected to decline. That would be a mistake. While Maholm isn't quite worth that amount of money, it's not all that far off, plus it gives the club a solid lefty for the price of one season under contract. That's a no-brainer, but if he hits the market, might be able to finagle a three-year deal by virtue of being one of the youngest pitchers on the free-agent market.  The lefty has shown flashes of being a very good pitcher -- including this year, and one might even argue that Maholm belongs higher on this list.
Potential teams: Mets, Pirates, Angels, Royals, Nationals, Tigers, Cubs, Cardinals, Angels, Orioles

Harden16. Rich Harden: Harden, predictably, kept on having his injury problems but when he was on the field, actually pitched rather well with command not seen since 2005, when he was one of baseball's blossoming talents. Harden can still throw gas. He may no longer be able to stick as a starter despite teams giving him every chance possible, but he has the potential to impact a game whichever inning he ends up pitching in.
Potential teams: Athletics, Rangers, Cubs, Red Sox, Padres, Dodgers, Mets, Marlins

Harang17. Aaron Harang: Harang pitched rather well for the Padres, but it's pretty easy to figure out why. His home park of Petco Park helped him immensely, so he probably won't find many offers much to his liking out on the market. He may not care, as he's made very clear that he wants to stay in San Diego. Should the Padres decline his $5 million option, he'll return -- just at a lower price.
Potential teams: Padres

Padilla18. Vicente Padilla: The Dodgers seemed to be high on Padilla last year, hoping he could serve as both a starter and reliever. That got cut short when Padilla began the season on the DL recovering from elbow surgery, then needing neck surgery mere weeks after coming off the DL. It appears as if Padilla has found a home in Los Angeles after signing a below-market deal to remain with the club. Likewise, the club also seems to like Padilla, who has struggled for years among allegations he's a heavy drinker and poor clubhouse personality, so a reunion with the cash-strapped Dodgers makes sense. A handful of other teams could be interested, but it's doubtful they will be any more attractive than L.A.
Potential teams: Dodgers, Astros, Giants, Marlins, Athletics

Francis19. Jeff Francis: At this point, Francis is pretty far off the "Jeffrey Franchise" label given to him when coming up with the Rockies. Francis rebuilt his value in Kansas City after missing all of 2009 and making 24 starts with Colorado in 2010. The lefty was able to put together 31 starts, even if he tallied just 183 innings. While he has strong control, his lack of a putaway pitch is his main drawback, and at this point, he's nothing more than a No. 4 starter. He'll find a spot this winter, but won't receive much money.
Potential teams: Royals, Cardinals, Padres, Dodgers, Orioles, White Sox, Mets, Marlins, Pirates, Astros

Garcia20. Freddy Garcia: Garcia once looked like the man whose major-league career was dwindling. But now, after the comeback he's had the last two years -- and especially in New York, where he was a more than able starter for the Yankees -- he's assured himself of at least a few more years' run in baseball. The righty is strictly a back-of-the-rotation starter who could serve as a swingman. His willingness to serve in such a role with the Yankees could have him back as a long reliever.
Potential teams: Really, he could land with any team.

Bonus pick: Yu Darvish: If Darvish gets posted, it will give teams an opportunity to get the best pitcher on the free agent market. The only thing that will hold Darvish back is skepticsm as to how his game translates to America, but he is just 25 and put up video-game numbers in Japan, so even if teams talk Darvish down publicly, there will be no shortage of bids. He will also be attractive to teams who covet draft picks, as he won't cost one to sign. Anyone with funds will make a play, even teams who aren't currently competitive. Given his age, Darvish might even work best on a building club, as he would be able to debut on a team with minimal expectations and get his feet wet.
Potential teams: Blue Jays, Cubs, Mets, Nationals, Rangers, Red Sox, Royals, Yankees

Free-agent position rankings: C | 1B | 2B | SS | 3B | OF | DH | SP | RP

Free-agent overall rankings: Position players | Pitchers

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 19, 2011 11:47 am
Edited on: October 19, 2011 11:57 am
 

Yu Darvish denies asking to be posted

Yu DarvishBy C. Trent Rosecrans

We've all seen this before -- something's expected, a report comes out that it's going to happen, the principal comes out and says no decision has been made, decision is announced later and it's exactly what we expected to happen all along is going to happen.

Well, that's playing out in Japan right now with Yu Darvish.

The 25-year-old right-hander for Japan's Nippon Ham Fighters (for the record it's Nippon Ham as the sponsor of the team, and Fighters is the nickname) is going to be posted, Kyodo News in Japan reports (via Mainichi Daily News).

However, Darvish has tweeted that those reports are false and that he'll share any decision with his fans when his decision is made, according to YakyuBaka.com.

Darvish's Fighters are still alive in Japan's postseason, so it's unlikely he'd announce his intentions before the season is done.

Darvish was 18-6 with a 1.44 ERA this season -- marking the fifth straight year he's had an ERA under 2.00 in Japan. He struck out 276 batters in 232 innings. The Rangers, Yankees and Blue Jays have all been said to be the most interested in Darvish, who will command a large contract -- and a large posting fee.

It does appear, however, if he asks, the Fighters will post Darvish.

"If he wants to play at a higher level, then that's his wish," Nippon Ham owner Hiroji Okoso told Kyodo News.

Darvish will probably be playing stateside next season and should be one of the most sought-after players on the market. However, the arcane posting system -- which has all teams interested submit blind bids for just the rights to negotiate with a player -- will make things more interesting, that's for sure.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 16, 2011 10:12 am
 

Pepper: Beltran wants Giants to upgrade offense

Beltran

By Evan Brunell

Wanted: more offense -- Carlos Beltran has enjoyed his time in San Francisco, but it could only last a few months.

The free-agent outfielder told the San Jose Mercury News that playing for the Giants would be fantastic with its pitching staff, plus the returns of Buster Posey and Freddy Sanchez should boost the offense next season. But that's not enough.

"I believe there should be a little bit more than that," he said, referring to the offense.

But where should the team upgrade? Catcher, second base and third are spoken for. Aubrey Huff will be in his final season while Brandon Belt is ready to play full-time, so split first base and left field between the two players. If Beltran comes back, that's right field sewed up. That leaves shortstop, with no real internal candidate, and center field.

Of course, Jose Reyes has gotten a lo of attention as the marquee free agent, but the Giants will have to pay a pretty penny for Reyes' services. In center, the team might as well keep Andres Torres if its next-best option is Coco Crisp, although Grady Sizemore could be attractive if the Indians decline their club option.

But the Giants have to worry about money, too. They have $80 million committed to just six players next year, one of which won't be playing for the team in Aaron Rowand. To resign Beltran and bring in another top-flight hitter to please Beltran? That's pushing it.

"You want to be in a lineup where you are around players that will make the lineup better, you understand?" Beltran said. "Right now we have missed a leadoff batter here, and that's huge. That's something, to me, they should address that area, before me."

Weak Central
: Jim Leyland has a lot of expletive-filled thoughts as to the AL Central being so weak, the Tigers' accomplishments may be hurt. “You're looking for something to take something away from them,” Leyland complained to MLive.com . “I don't want to talk about that. That's [expletive]. That's total [expletive]. Let me remind you of something. It was three months ago, two months ago, that the [expletive] Cleveland Indians were the talk of baseball. Everybody was saying they were pretty [expletive] good. Now, all of a sudden, because we beat them they're [expletive]? That's not fair. That's unfair.”

Moving to right: Carlos Gonzalez will be the team's right fielder next season, Rockies manager Jim Tracy says, citing Gonzalez's arm as the reason why. He's already made the move and has 12 assists in just 34 games. (MLB.com)

Staying in Japan? Phenom Yu Darvish is re-thinking whether or not he will come to America for 2012,. His team, Nippon Ham, is eager to post Darvish and reap the profits but Japan's best pitcher is unsure the time is right to make the leap. (NPB Tracker)

Humidor time: The Rockies love everything about their Triple-A franchise...except the fact that it's a launching pad for hitters, robbing pitchers of development time. As a result, a humidor will be installed next season. (Denver Post)

The story of Trayvon: Seattle's newest outfielder, Trayvon Robinson, had a tough upbringing with a home in south-central Los Angeles, split between warring gang factions and attending the high school featured in Boys N The Hood. It's a feature well worth reading. (Seattle Times)

Setback: Dodgers ex-closer Jonathan Broxton has suffered a setback in his recovery from an injured elbow. Broxton will become a free-agent and will have to look around for a one-year deal to rehabilitate his value. (MLB.com)

One year later: A year ago, a baseball bat pierced Tyler Colvin's chest. What could have been a serious incident has now passed and Colvin is back in the majors -- albeit struggling. (MLB.com)

Jays resurgence: Part of Toronto's resurgence has been the successful adding of young players both inside and outside of the organization. More help is on  the way as indicated by the Jays making the minor-league postseason with five of seven teams. But will Toronto make its move in the offseason or wait for more help to arrive? (Canoe.ca)

No diamond: The city of Detroit has nixed an offer from Chevrolet to preserve the diamond at Tiger Stadium, which is mostly demolished these days. Why did the city do that? Because it's trying to keep the space open for significant redevelopment, which the city would jump at to improve its flagging revenues. (Detroit Free Press)

Still playing: Aaron Cook won't retire, but the Rockie who receives his final start in Colorado on Wednesday also certainly won't be back. (Denver Post)

Morgan or Sandberg? Reds announcer Marty Brennaman believes that Morgan was the better second baseman than Sandberg, which the author terms a "controversial" topic. Really? (Chicago Tribune)

Still playing: Amir Garrett, who was picked in the 22nd round of the MLB draft, hopes to play basketball as a freshman this winter after being declared ineligible by the NCAA. Garrett signed a $1 million deal with the Reds and is expect to join the team after college basketball is over. (Eye on College Basketball)

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 1, 2011 9:42 am
 

Pepper: Plenty of good seats available

Dodger Stadium

By C. Trent Rosecrans
 

Los Angeles Times columnist Bill Plaschke went to Wednesday afternoon's Dodgers-Padres game and talked to all six fans in section 314. Six. The announced crowd was 27,767 -- but there were actually fewer than 8,000, Plaschke estimated and may have been the smallest crowd in Dodger Stadium history. 

Every time I've been to Dodger Stadium it's been full and rocking -- this tells you as much as you need to know about how LA fans feel about Frank McCourt.

On the market: But the McCourts did sell one of their two homes near the Playboy Mansion, so there's that. It was the smaller of the two houses in Holmby Hills going for "just" $6.14 million. [Los Angeles Times]

Click here: Really nice work by the Detroit News illustrating just how quickly a Justin Verlander fastball gets on a batter. Check it out.

No sympathy: White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire is one of his closest friends in the game, but he's not exactly feeling sorry for him -- "No, because I've seen him celebrating a lot with a lot of champagne over his body when I've watch him [over the years]," he told reporters (MLB.com). "Get them next year, Gardy."

Jays scouting Darvish: Toronto general manager Alex Anthopoulos was in Japan on Wednesday scouting right-hander Yu Darvish. The Rangers and Yankees have also scouted him in person, while the Nationals, Orioles, Red Sox and Rays also have reportedly been interested in Darvish. [Toronto Sun]

Theo happy in Boston: Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein made his first remarks about his name being thrown around in talks about the open Cubs job -- he said he's "really happy to be with the Red Sox." He didn't elaborate much or deny any interest in the Cubs job, but why should he? Leverage is a good thing and there's no reason for Epstein to give that up. [WEEI.com]

Beane leading Cubs' wish list: Cubs owner Tom Ricketts was in San Francisco on Wednesday, while A's general manager Billy Beane was at home in the Bay Area and his team was in Cleveland -- coincidence? [Chicago Sun-Times

Rooftops expected: For the first time in a decade, all the Wrigley rooftops around the Cubs' home park have been inspected by city health officials. [Chicago Tribune]

Measuring power: An interesting article on FanGraphs.com asking the best way to measure power -- because what exactly are we talking about when we talk about power? It's more than just homers, but shouldn't homers count more? Anyway, the result is a stat called wXB -- or weighted extra bases. However, the problem with this is that are triples really a measure of power? You're not going to find anyone who says Dexter Fowler has more power than David Ortiz, but you wouldn't be surprised to learn Fowler has more triples than Ortiz.

Strasmas returns: Not that it's any surprise, but ticket prices have gone through the roof for the Stephen Strasburg's "Strasurrection" start on Sept. 6. [Washington Post]

Cards want to extend Berkman: The Houston Chronicle's Richard Justice told a St. Louis radio station that the Cardinals approached Lance Berkman about a contract extension in July and the 35-year-old "very much wants to stay" in St. Louis. However, the fact he didn't sign an extension implies Berkman will at least test the free agent waters. [NBC Sports]

Phillies doomed: The Phillies are a favorite for the World Series this season, but enjoy it now, Phillies fans. Grantland.com's Rany Jazayerli writes that the team isn't built for the long haul, as the team is saddled with bloated contracts and aging players. A really interesting read.

Moose is loose: Royals rookie Mike Moustakas has found his groove. After starting his career hitting .182, he's raised his average to .232 with a 14-game hitting streak. [MLB.com]

Movie time for A's: Several A's say they're curious to see Moneyball when it premiers later this month. [Baseball Prospectus]

Bay to center? Could the Mets move Jason Bay to center field in 2012? That's one of the things the team is considering, even though it seems like it would certainly weaken the team's outfield defense. But hey, the guy is owed a ton of money, so he'd have to be put somewhere. The move would also allow Daniel Murphy's bat to get in the lineup in left, with Lucas Duda in right. Of course, Murphy wasn't able to play left in 2009, so I'm not exactly sure why he would be able to now. [New York Daily News]

Pujols teases fan: A good friend of mine can't stand Albert Pujols -- when 60 Minutes did the feature about all his charitable work, my friend wasn't impressed. He once had a to do a story on Pujols, who blew him off. He went back the next day, and Pujols was a jerk to him again. So I'm guessing he'll like this story about Pujols taunting a Brewer fan. [Big League Stew]

Quentin's return uncertain: White Sox outfielder Carlos Quentin is eligible to come off the disabled list on Monday, but he said he's unsure if he'll be ready to play by then. He went on the disabled list for a sprained AC joint in his left shoulder Saturday, but hadn't played since Aug. 20. [Chicago Tribune]

Uehara's option vests: When Rangers reliever Koji Uehara appeared in his 55th game of the season on Wednesday, his $4 million option for 2012 vested. [MLBTradeRumors.com]

More Garfoose: Not to overload you with Dirk Hayhurst stuff, but some might find this interesting -- the recently released pitcher is auctioning off some of his game-used gear for charity. [DirkHayhurst.com]

40th anniversary: On Sept. 1, 1971, the Pittsburgh Pirates became the first team in Major League history to field an all-minority lineup, with Dock Ellis taking the mound. [The Hardball Times]

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Posted on: August 15, 2011 12:26 pm
Edited on: August 15, 2011 1:59 pm
 

Darvish hires agents, headed to U.S. in 2012?

DarvishBy Evan Brunell

The best pitcher slated to be on the free-agent market is C.J. Wilson, but he might be supplanted by a Japanese import.

While Hisashi Iwakuma is expected to come stateside a year after failing to join Oakland through the posting process, it's Yu Darvish that has everyone's attention as one of the best pitchers in Japan. At just 24 years old (Darvish turns 25 on Tuesday), the right-hander will command a hefty price through the posting process.

While Darvish is expected to be posted after opting to stay in Japan one additional year last season, news out of the Tokyo Chunichi sports paper via Yakyubaya.com notes that Darvish told teammate Yuki Saito he was planning on staying in Japan one more year, although a source close to Darvish said the Persian Japanese pitcher reported that Darvish was finding it difficult to stay motivated in Japanese baseball.

Another indication that Darvish is preparing for a move comes in the hiring of Arn Tellem and Don Nomura to represent Darvish. Nomura is popular in Japan for his ability to help players move to the major leagues. Nomura was Iwakuma's agent last year but was partly responsible for the breakdown in talks, leading Iwakuma to switch agents. Nomura is expected to handle Darvish's side of things in Japan, while Tellem will handle the U.S. side, which will certainly make the negotiating process easier with an American agent's expertise. Tellem has previous dealings with Nomura, helping the Japanese agent find the voluntary retirement loophole in Hideo Nomo's contract that allowed him to retire from baseball in Japan, freeing him up to move to the U.S. without a posting process.

The newspaper tabs the Yankees, Red Sox and Rangers as the best candidates for Darvish's services, adding the Mets, Dodgers and Blue Jays as other contenders. It's difficult to imagine the Mets and Dodgers having the funds for an outlay that could cost about $ 80 million, and the Red Sox may not want to jump back into the expensive waters to bring a Japanese pitcher to town after the Daisuke Matsuzaka saga, as well as coming off two major contracts signed in Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez. That leaves the Yankees, Rangers and Blue Jays as the top suitors, which sounds about right.

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Photo courtesy Yakyubaya.com.
Posted on: July 21, 2011 9:18 am
Edited on: July 21, 2011 9:33 am
 

Pepper: Matsui hits No. 500

Hideki Matsui

By C. Trent Rosecrans


You may have missed it last night, but Hideki Matsui hit his 168th home run of his Major League Baseball career. Why's that meaningful? Well, in addition to his 332 homers for the Yomiuri Giants in Japan, he has 500 in his professional career.

Sure, 500 combined isn't the same as 500 in MLB, but it's still a cool accomplishment. Sadaharu Oh, who hit 868 home runs, was impressed by the accomplishment.

"To keep hitting home runs during a tough schedule while maintaining your conditioning is not easy," Oh told the Associated Press.

Matsui was less impressed. "It isn't like I've been aiming for this, because I don't really combine numbers from Japan and here. To me, they are two separate leagues," he told the AP.

And he's right, there are differences. The ballparks in Japan are smaller, the ball is slightly different, the pitchers are different and the season is shorter. But still, 500 is a lot of home runs, even if you're in Little League. He was never quite the same feared power hitter here that he was in Japan, but he did produce for many years and has been a good big leaguer, adjusting his game to his new surroundings. 

I lived in Japan when he first came up, and the hype he received is like nothing I've seen in the United States -- I'd say it's more like if Bryce Harper were a Yankee. That's how famous he was even in high school in Japan, where the high school baseball tournament is covered like the NCAA basketball tournament here. 

The 500 mark has been achieved by 25 in MLB and eight in Japan -- and just one, Matsui, has done it combined between the two.

KOTCHMAN QUALIFIED: It's been easy to miss, but Rays first baseman Casey Kotchman is having a heck of a season. He needed four plate appearances Wednesday to qualify for the batting title. Kotchman not only got his four appearances, he picked up three hits, raising his batting average to .337, which is second in the American League to Boston's Adrian Gonzalez (.343). [Tampa Tribune]

UNHAPPY DAYS IN CHICAGO: It's been a severely disappointing season in Chicago, and both managers are none too happy with their teams. White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen had some choice words for his team after a loss to Bruce Chen and the Royals [Chicago Tribune]; Cubs manager Mike Quade targeted his ire on two young players, Starlin Castro and Darwin Barney. [Chicago Sun-Times]. 

STRONG COFFEY: Nats reliever Todd Coffey wasn't too happy about allowing a run in Tuesday night's game and reacted by throwing a water cooler -- nearly drenching Jerry Hairston. Let that be a lesson kids, another reason to wear high socks -- your pants don't get wet if Coffey spills on you. [Washington Post]

SWEET MUSIC: The New York Times music critic writes about the beautiful sounds of a ballpark. Listen to the sweet sound of summer. Maybe they should make it a MP3 so I can listen to it when there's snow on the ground.

JETER FATIGUE: Sick of hearing about Derek Jeter? Well, there's a browser tool for that. If you're using Google's Chrome, you can download the Jeter Filter to avoid all those pesky references to the Captain. Too bad this wasn't around a week or so ago (I kid, I kid). [Big League Stew]

CHAVEZ REVINE IS SAFE: The group that owns the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles says that it is not interested in building a downtown baseball stadium, contrary to earlier reports. "It's not even an idea. It simply doesn't work," AEG president Tim Leiweke told ESPNLosAngeles.com.

CLOSER IN WAITING?: If Florida trades Leo Nunez, it's like Edward Mujica will get the nod as the team's closer. You fantasy baseball folk may want to remember that and get in on him early. [Miami Herald]

SORIANO CLOSE: Yankees setup man Rafael Soriano made his first rehab appearance Tuesday, allowing two runs on two hits in 1 1/3 innings at Class A Tampa. Yankees manager Joe Girardi said he didn't know yet how he'd use Soriano upon his return. [New York Daily News]

DARVISH WATCH: One of the big names we'll be sick of hearing come January or so is Japanese import Yu Darvish. The Angels, Yankees and Mets were among the teams that watched his last start. [YakyuBaka.com]

NO MO NO-NO: Monday the Royals' Luis Mendoza of the Royals' Triple-A team in Omaha threw a no-hitter and the next night the Double-A squad in Northwest Arkansas threw a combined no-hitter. Well, Wednesday the Royals not only didn't have a no-hitter, but they had another taken away when the Pacific Coast League stripped Mendoza of his no-hitter, changing an error call to a hit -- again. Monday night outfielder David Lough of the Storm Chasers was charged with an error. Then just minutes after Mendoza celebrated his no-hitter, it was changed to a hit. And then an hour later, it was changed back to an error. And now Wednesday it was changed back to a hit. Mendoza threw a no-hitter for Triple-A Oklahoma City in 2009. [Kansas City Star]

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Posted on: June 24, 2011 9:54 am
Edited on: June 24, 2011 4:41 pm
 

Pepper: Oswalt hints he may be done

By C. Trent Rosecrans

BASEBALL TODAY: Just why did Jim Riggleman ditch his job? CBSSports.com senior writer Danny Knobler joins Lauren Shehadi to discuss Riggleman, Ubaldo Jimenez and more. Check it out.

OSWALT END?: It's not just that Roy Oswalt is hurt -- leaving Thursday's start with the Cardinals after just two innings -- but that he may have pitched his last game ever.

Oswalt will not only likely miss his next start, he could also be done. He's already hinted at retirement and with a back injury, it may not be worth it for Oswalt to come back.

After Thursday's outing, Oswalt sounded anything but confident in his return. David Hale of the News Journal has a full transcript of Oswalt's postgame comments, and they don't sound like the comments of someone who is confident it'll be an easy road back.

Heres' the question and answer that says it all to me:

Q: Do you allow yourself to think about your career at this point?

A: I've had a pretty good one.

That sounds like someone who is content with walking away if he gets bad news soon.

We may know more Monday after his scheduled MRI.

HOT SEAT: Edwin Rodriguez didn't last a full calendar year as the Marlins manager and the Cubs' Mike Quade could follow that lead. Quade's on the hot seat (even if general manager Jim Hendry's seat should be hotter). [Chicago Tribune]

LI'L' GOOSE: Pirates manager Clint Hurdle compared closer Joel Hanrahan to Hall of Famer Goose Gossage, and after stifling a laugh, John Perrotto of the Beaver County Times takes a look at the comparison and sees some parallels.

SCOUTING DARVISH: Rangers general manager Jon Daniels was scheduled to see Japanese right-hander Yu Darvish's start on Friday. Darvish may be the top free-agent pitcher this season if he comes to the United States, as expected. The Braves and Twins reportedly had scouts at his last start, when he picked up just his second loss of the season. It was one of his worst starts of the season and he still gave up just one earned run, allowing nine hits and striking out 10 in eight innings. [YakyuBaka.com]

A'S OPEN TO DEAL: The sharks are circling in Oakland, as scouts have been checking out outfielder Josh Willingham, infielder Mark Ellis and left-handed relievers Craig Breslow and Brian Fuentes. [San Francisco Chronicle]

ANOTHER LOOK: Diamondbacks pitcher Josh Collmenter, he of the tomahawk motion, looks forward to facing teams another time so he can prove he's more than a gimmick pitcher. We'll see. [MLB.com]

NICE RIDE: The Toledo Mud Hens players are going to miss Brandon Inge, who was activated by the Tigers on Thursday. During his rehab trip with Detroit's Triple-A team, Inge sprung for a limo for several players to take them from Louisville, Ky., to Columbus, Ohio, skipping the planned bus ride. [Detroit News]

DEJA VU: A St. Louis ace 1-7 through June? (Well, now 2-7 after Thursday night's 2-7) It's been done before. Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Dispatch  compares Chris Carpenter's 1-7 start to that of John Tudor's 26 years ago. 

CABRERA'S CASE POSTPONED: The hearing for Detroit first baseman Miguel Cabrera's DUI arrest has been postponed again and rescheduled for July 12. That's the day of the All-Star Game. Cabrera, however, isn't required to be present for this hearing, though, so he can still go to the All-Star Game. [Detroit News]

NO DECISION: Pirates general manager Neal Huntington said he'd prefer not to negotiate during the season (and that doesn't make Jim Riggleman happy), but said it's not a rule. Pittsburgh starter Paul Maholm has said he'd like to sign an extension to stay in Pittsburgh. [MLB.com]

GARDNER'S D: A cool story here from ESPNNewYork.com's Mark Simon looking at the defense of Brett Gardner by talking to scouts, players and stats folks. 

BUCCO FEVER: If you haven't noticed, the Pirates (yes, the team in Pittsburgh) are in a pennant race. Sure, it's not even July yet, but we're talking the Pirates. The folks in Pittsburgh are beginning to take notice. [Pittsburgh Tribune-Review]

LAWRIE DELAYED: Blue Jays prospect Brett Lawrie was all but set to be called up at the beginning of the month, but before he could get the call, he was hit by a pitch and broke his left hand. Now he's having trouble gripping the bat and may not be ready until August. [CBCSports.ca]

FIGGINS DILEMMA: If you're following the Mariners, there's plenty of positives around the team -- including a record just a game under .500. But there's one big concern, Chone Figgins. The question for the Mariners is what to do with Figgins, who has two years and $17 million left on his contract. [Seattle Times]

BROXTON'S RETURN: Even when Jonathan Broxton comes off the disabled list, he won't automatically return to closing for the Dodgers, manager Don Mattingly said. [Los Angeles Times]

RETURN OF THE SPITTER: Here's an interesting theory (that I'm pretty sure I don't buy, but still interesting to think about) from Mat Kovach of the Hardball Times -- is the rise of pitching because of the return of the spitball?

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

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