Tag:Zack Greinke
Posted on: August 24, 2011 10:30 am
 

Pepper: Quade's excusing of Castro a mistake

Castro

By Evan Brunell

Lighten up: Much has been made of Starlin Castro missing a pitch in Sunday's game, with his back to the plate while playing in the field. Understandably, many people -- including ESPN announcer Bobby Valentine -- were outraged, with Valentine excoriating Castro on air.

Also unsurprisingly, Cubs players are rushing to Castro's defense, with Aramis Ramirez the latest to tell everyone to back off. And Ramirez has a pretty good idea what it may be like to be Castro, who is 21 years old. Ramirez made his big-league debut at age 19.

"People need to realize that he's only 21 -- he's going to make mistakes," Ramirez told MLB.com. "He's going to make mental mistakes. ... I made it to the big leagues when I was 19, and I made a lot of mistakes. That's part of [the game]."

Ramirez added that Castro has apologized to the team and everyone's moved on.

"I think [such a big deal was made] because it was an ESPN game, a nationally televised game," Ramirez said. "[But] that stuff shouldn't happen. Starlin would be the first one to tell you that shouldn't happen. Even when you're a veteran, you make mistakes."

Here's the problem, though: Mike Quade had something to say, and it was the wrong thing. Castro was benched Monday in a pretty clear response to his not paying attention to the pitch, but Quade passed it off as a mental day, missing an opportunity to show everyone -- including owner Tom Ricketts, who may fire Quade after the year -- that he's the boss. He missed another opportunity by excusing Castro's behavior for the limelight of being a Cubs player.

"I may agree that too much was being made of it but this is the world we're in and this is the spotlight we're under," Quade said. "You can think what you want, but when you're playing in a market like this at a level like this, you can expect this kind of attention, and you can expect to be under a microscope like this."

Since when did a player's uniform affect attention span? Not paying attention during the game is not paying attention, period.

Back at it
: The next outing for Stephen Strasburg will come on Saturday, which will be his fifth rehab start since returning from Tommy John surgery. It's also the first one that will be at a higher level than Single-A, with Strasburg heading to Triple-A, which should allow Strasburg to lock in and focus on executing pitches against advanced competition as he prepares for an early September return to Washington. (Washington Times)

Will Wandy go? Steve Campbell of the Houston Chronicle says that how the Astros handle the Wandy Rodriguez waiver claim situation will go a long way in determining how new owner Jim Crane will handle things. " Is he really about trying try to build things the right way for sustainable success, or is the endgame nothing more than to dump salary for dumping salary’s sake?" Campbell writes. "If the Astros do nothing more than a salary dump, however, then fans have reason to be afraid — very afraid — for the future. Houston is too big and too good of a market to become the National League’s Kansas City of the South — perpetually turning over the roster with young, cheap players without committing the resources necessary to build a winner."

Best scooper: Eric Hosmer wasn't called up to the majors until May 6, but his 27 scoops at first base (yes, this really is measured) is just one behind Adam Lind for most in the AL, while Carlos Pena leads baseball with 52. Three additional AL players have 27 scoops. “What I had to learn when I got here,” Hosmer told the Kansas City Star, “was, when you pick it, you’ve got to stay through it (with a sweeping motion). You have an imaginary line on where you think the ball is going to bounce. Before, I was just working up and down. Then I learned to go through the ball.”

Capping the draft: There were plenty of big paydays to high school and college players once the dust settled last week on the signing deadline for drafted players. The money is so exorbitant, that it's only deepened commissioner Bud Selig's resolve to introduce a hard-slotting system. But is that good for baseball? (Kansas City Star)

Moneyball: Before long, the blockbuster movie centered around the book that made so many waves in baseball will premiere, with Brad Pitt as A's GM Billy Beane. New York Magazine has a great story out about the movie and how it had to jump through hoops to get made... and what, exactly, Hollywood is taking away from Moneyball.

Game changed: But Billy Beane says the game is different these days, and the gap between the big- and low-money teams is even more pronounced, with the window for small markets to compete that much smaller than just a decade ago, as Oakland has been reduced to taking fliers on players as their only options.  “Sometimes, you’re relegated to buying that lottery ticket,” Beane told the New York Times. “Anybody will tell you that the lottery is not a great way to invest your money. But sometimes, you don’t have a lot of options.”

Window closing? Since the Cardinals won the World Series in 2006, they have yet to win another postseason game. With Chris Carpenter, Albert Pujols and others only getting older and reaching free agency, is it possible St. Louis' window of competition has closed? It seems like it, but how did the window get missed in the first place with strong teams over the last four years? (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Brave injuries
: Tommy Hanson, one of Atlanta's best pitchers, keeps experiencing setbacks while sensation Jose Constanza is hobbled by a right-ankle sprain. Constanza is day-to-day and could be back as early as Wednesday, but Hanson is a different story. He threw a nine-pitch throwing session on Monday, the first time throwing from the mound since Aug. 6, but the report was sobering enough that his Tuesday bullpen session was canceled. Hanson will now wait for his condition to improve. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

The Say-Hey Kid: Cameron Maybin received an honor by spending time at the home of baseball great Willie Mays, and Maybin was understandably bowled over by the meeting. Mays has been impressed with Maybin this season and invited him over when San Diego was in San Francisco before Tuesday's game. The Giants said while Mays has been known to go out to dinner with young players, they can't recall an invitation to go to Mays' home ever being extended to a player. “I took him my jersey, signed it for him,” Maybin told the San Diego Union-Tribune. “Think of that. My jersey’s in Willie Mays’ house.”

Starting Greinke: The Brewers considered delaying Zack Greinke's next start so he could face the Cardinals, but manager Ron Roenicke may not go that route. Roenicke believes that Milwaukee should focus on winning every game, while Greinke isn't keen on starting a game on eight days rest. Nothing is decided yet, but the outcome appears obvious. (MLB.com)

Web Gems: Last season, Sam Miller of the Orange County Register found an East Coast bias in Web Gems, which may have been in part due to fan voting. This season, though, with tweaked rules, there is no such bias. The top five teams with the most Web Gems in 2011 are the Indians, Rangers, Rays, Brewers and Royals.

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Posted on: August 18, 2011 11:50 am
Edited on: August 18, 2011 1:51 pm
 

Royals extend Francoeur for 2 years

Jeff FrancoeurBy C. Trent Rosecrans

At the trade deadline, Royals general manager insisted he wanted to keep both Jeff Francoeur and Melky Cabrera around -- and few believed him, or at least believed it was a good idea. While the later may still be true, the former can't be doubted for Francoeur at least, as the veteran outfielder signed a two-year extension with the Royals through the 2013 season.

The Royals signed Francoeur to a one-year contract before the season and he's played well for the Royals this season, hitting .278/.328/.465 with 15 home runs and 66 RBI in 119 games. He's also a veteran presence on a team that is loaded with young talent, although much of it is in the infield.

Francoeur has long been a favorite of Royals general manager Dayton Moore, the Royals' general manager who started his career in the Braves system, like Francoeur. And not only that, he's fit in well with the Royals, who have been the darling of many for their talented minor league system, but his eventual replacement, Wil Myers, is still just 20 years old and seen his numbers drop a bit at Double-A Northwest Arkansas. The best-case scenario is Myers coming up sometime in 2013 and Francoeur to be able to serve as the bridge to Myers in right field.

While just 27, Francoeur is a favorite on the internet for backseat GMs, despite putting up a 2.3 WAR this season according to FanGraphs.com and a positive WAR in all but one season in his career. Still, the internet often paints him as the worst player in the history of baseball for his lower-than-average on-base percentage (.312 for his career) and the unforgivable sin of being a nice guy and having writers write about him being a decent human being.

Is Francoeur the worst player in baseball? Hardly. Is he the best? Hardly. In all, he's a decent player who has the potential to be above-average and at worst, a good guy to have in the clubhouse -- which we all know doesn't matter on Twitter or in your fantasy league.

With Francoeur and Cabrera (another decent player with expectations that are inflated by having played in New York), the Royals have two above-average type outfielders to go along with Alex Gordon, making a decent outfield -- at least the best Kansas City has had since the days of Johnny Damon, Carlos Beltran and Jermaine Dye in the early 2000s. Cabrera, 27, is arbitration-eligible this season and a free agent after next season. He could be a valuable player at next year's trade deadline and hold a spot for Lorenzo Cain, the center fielder the Royals acquired in the Zack Greinke trade.

So while Twitter may see this as a joke, it's actually a nice move for the Royals who are building for the future well beyond the two years they have Francoeur under contract. The contract is for $13.5 million over the two years, the Kansas City Star's Bob Dutton tweets, probably a bit of an overpayment, but it's hardly cripling for the Royals who have just four other players under contract for next season, it's unlikely Francoeur stretches the budget to any sort of breaking point and he makes the team better now and in the future.

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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 4:39 pm
 

On Deck: Angels turn to red-hot Santana

OD

By Matt Snyder

With four teams idle and three day games, we're still left with 10 night games on this partial getaway day. Remember to follow along with all the action on CBSSports.com's live scoreboard.

Santana the stopper: The Angels have lost four in a row while the Rangers have rattled off five straight, meaning the Rangers now hold a six game lead in the AL West. The Angels still have two games left in this series, however, and badly need someone to step up and put a stop to the bleeding. Wednesday, they may just have the man to do so: Ervin Santana (9-8, 3.10). He's as hot a pitcher as there is in baseball right now, as he's 6-0 with a 1.50 ERA, 0.89 WHIP and 56 strikeouts in 72 innings over the course of his last nine starts. It won't be easy going for the Angels' offense, though, as All-Star C.J. Wilson (11-5, 3.28) is Santana's counterpart for the night. Rangers at Angels, 10:05 p.m. ET.

Greinke looks to stay hot: I've seen a few headlines touting Greinke's quest for winning his fifth straight start, but his string of quality pitching goes deeper than his past four outings. In Greinke's last seven starts, he has a 1.75 ERA, 1.04 WHIP and 54 strikeouts in 46 1/3 innings. This is the man the Brewers paid a handsome price -- in terms of prospects -- for this past offseason. Not only is Greinke looking to add to his personal success, but to continue the Brewers' recent dominance. They've won 17 of their last 19 games and have built a seven game lead in the NL Central that once was an up-for-grabs four-team race. The Dodgers will send rookie Nate Eovaldi (1-0, 1.64) to the hill in an attempt to cool off the Brewers. Dodgers at Brewers, 8:10 p.m. ET.

Jurrjens returns: Jurrjens was one of the best pitchers in the first half of the season, as he took a 12-3 record and 1.87 ERA into the All-Star break. Since then, however, it's been rough going. In his four starts since then, he has a 6.26 ERA and 1.52 WHIP. He hasn't pitched since August 1 with a right knee strain, however, so maybe his health is what can get him back on track. He'll take the mound in Atlanta Wednesday against the Giants, who are in bad need of a victory. The Giants have fallen on miserable times, mostly due to offensive ineptitude and injuries. They do have All-Star Matt Cain (9-9, 3.00) taking the hill in an attempt to right the ship. Giants at Braves, 7:10 p.m. ET.

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Posted on: August 14, 2011 9:35 pm
 

Greinke plays for 'Bierbrauers' on wrong night

GreinkeBy Evan Brunell

On Sunday, the Brewers wore their "Bierbrauer" jerseys -- "Brewers" in the German language.

Problem is, Zack Greinke beat them to it on Saturday when he dressed in the Bierbrauer jersey and pinch-hit in the bottom of the fifth inning to lay down a sacrifice bunt. That's against the rules -- all players must wear the same uniform -- but neither the umpires or Pirates noticed, so play went on as scheduled. If someone had noticed, the Brewers would have had to change batters or wait for Greinke to change his jersey.

"I had no idea," manager Ron Roenicke told MLB.com, saying Greinke was wearing a fleece pullover before and during the game, so no one saw his uniform. "It was blue, and that's all it looked like to me. I didn't know until one of the guys said something. He didn't know [either]."

H/T: Big League Stew for both the story and the photo.

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Posted on: July 28, 2011 1:28 am
 

3 Up, 3 Down: Mauer power on display

Mauer

By Evan Brunell


Joe Mauer, Twins: The first home run of the season for Joe Mauer came Wednesday night in the first inning. With two out, he launched a solo home run to right field, a 383-footer. He had a 2-for-4 night with three runs, two RBI and a walk. Now hitting .288/.357/.350, Mauer is heating up, and has been for some time. With this new power, he might be ready to carry Minnesota to a shocking first-place finish. (At six games back, it really might happen.)

Zack Greinke, Brewers: Greinke's appeared in the 3 Down space more than once this season, but we always talked about his astounding strikeout-to-walk rate, now at an impressive 123-21, and said that his ERA -- which was 5.56 four starts ago -- would have to drop. It has, all the way to 4.50, as he's pitched 25 2/3 innings over those starts, giving up four unearned runs and none on Wednesday to the Cubs.

Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox: Have you noticed what Ellsbury's up to lately? He's hit eight home runs in his last 17 games and now has 17 on the year, tying him with Adrian Gonzalez for second most on the team. The leader? David Ortiz, who banged his 20th on the night, adding Boston's first grand slam of the year. Ellsbury scored three, drove in two and was 3-for-4 with a walk, pushing his line to .325/.383/.528 on the year. He also stole his 29th stolen base, which is rather low for him but with the added power, the Sox don't mind. Boston's never had a 25 HR/25 SB player, by the way.


James Shields, Rays: We're going to spend this edition of 3 Down yelling at pitchers who made poor starts. Let's kick things off with Shields, who somehow gave up 10 earned runs to the Athletics -- yes, the Oakland Athletics -- in four innings, with his ERA going from 2.53 to 3.03. The A's scored one in the third but it all exploded in the fourth with nine scored, with Hideki Matsui's three-run home run the biggest blow. He walked and struck out two apiece and will now attempt to banish this game from his mind as he tries to stay in the AL Cy Young race.

Bronson Arroyo, Reds: Arroyo hasn't been doing great lately, accentuating Cincinnati's need for starting pitchers that much more acute. Arroyo, usually as steady as they come for over 200 innings and an average ERA of 4.00, has the ERA all the way up to 5.58 after allowing five runs (one unearned) in six innings. Arroyo has been shockingly consistent as to giving up four or five runs over six innings, but he's given up an inordinate amount of home runs this season, giving up his 30th on Wednesday to Lucas Duda. He's usually good for 30 an entire season.

Colby Lewis, Rangers: Lewis wasn't bad like Shields, but he wasn't great either. He danced around danger, giving up eight hits and two walks, allowing four earned runs. He gave up two homers, one each to Mauer and Michael Cuddyer. Lewis has actually been trying to come back from a very up-and-down season, his ERA resting at 5.70 after April, driving it down to 3.48 over the next month, then getting rocked in two starts to send it way back up to 4.97.  And on it went, him working it down to 3.93, before this latest outing has him an even 4.00.

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Posted on: June 30, 2011 10:16 am
Edited on: June 30, 2011 11:00 am
 

Pepper: Don't buy me peanuts or Cracker Jack

By C. Trent Rosecrans

BASEBALL TODAY: Matt Snyder joins Lauren Shehadi to talk sweeps week in Major League Baseball, as the Phillies, Yankees and Mets go for sweeps in interleague series today.

BASEBALL FOR EVERYONE: A friend of mine has spent a good 15 years of his professional career around his great love, baseball. He's hoped to share that love with his son, named for his favorite player, Nolan Ryan. The two watch games on TV, but haven't been able to experience the game live.

Nolan hasn't been able to sit in the stands and wish for a foul ball to come his way or walk out of the concourse and see the field, hear the crowd roar as Ichiro Suzuki rounds second on his way to third or hear the pop of a Felix Hernandez fastball.

You see, two years ago, like any other toddler, Nolan ate some peanut butter. Soon, he could't breathe and broke out into hives. His parents loaded him into the car and rushed to the hospital. At one point, his mother decide they couldn't wait any longer and called 911 and they pulled over to the side as an ambulance rushed to their aid, closing the I-5. The paramedics were able to get it under control and doctors told them Nolan wouldn't have lasted much longer.

Nolan was diagnosed with a severe peanut allergy. Since then, they've noticed symptoms in their son if there is even peanut dust in the air. Safeco Field or any stadium was like walking into a poison trap for Nolan. 

Well, that won't have to be the case -- as the Mariners are one of the teams hosting peanut-free games this season, an increasing trend according to this Reuters article. Peanut allergies have doubled over the last decade, and nobody is sure why.

Five times a season, the Tigers offer peanut-free suites at discount prices, the next is Sunday against the Giants and all 70 seats are sold, the Detroit News reports. That's a good sign and hopefully encourages more of this.

PHILLIES GOOD: OK, this is hardly breaking news, but the Phillies' rotation is really, really good -- and that's even without Roy Oswalt.

David Hale of the News-Journal does the math for us, the current five starters in the rotation -- Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Vance Worley and Kyle Kendrick -- are a combined 12-3 with a 1.33 ERA in June with hitters managing just a .194 batting average against. WIth Halladay, Lee and Worley starting this month, the Phillies have gone 13-0.

BLAME BUD: While Bud Selig is 100 percent right to want Frank McCourt out as the Dodgers' owner, Yahoo!'s Jeff Passan writes that it's Selig's fault McCourt is in this position to begin with. Instead of finding the best owner for the team in 2004, Selig went with someone who would be on his side.

EXTENSION FOR HARDY: Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy is on several team's trade wishlist, but he may not be going anywhere. The Orioles have reached out to Hardy's agent to talk about an extension. Hardy is a free agent after the season. [Baltimore Sun]

NO FIRE SALE: After the Cubs released Doug Davis, general manager Jim Hendry met with the media and assured them there would be no "fire sale." While nobody wants the bloated contracts of Alfonso Soriano or Carlos Zambrano, Hendry insinuated he wouldn't trade the likes of Carlos Marmol or Ryan Dempster. [Daily Herald]

NO FIRE SALE… YET: The Dodgers haven't started "substantive" trade talks yet, but could begin doing so after the break, ESPN's Buster Olney tweets.

ZIMMERMAN'S CHANGES: Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman has struggled after rebuilding his throwing mechanics during a season, including allowing the game-winning run with a throwing error on Wednesday. But Zimmerman is convinced he's doing the right thing and it'll pay off in the end. [Washington Post]

WOOD CLOSER: The Cubs could get reliever Kerry Wood back in time for this weekend's series with the White Sox, CSNChicago.com's Patrick Mooney tweets.

ROENICKE, GREINKE MEET: Brewers manager Ron Roenicke met with right-hander Zack Greinke to "clear the air" after Roenicke felt some of his postgame comments were misinterpreted by the media after Greinke's two-inning start against the Yankees. [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel]

BUCHHOLZ OUT PAST BREAK: After throwing a bullpen Tuesday, Boston right-hander Clay Buchholz said he won't make his next start and could be out until after the All-Star break. Buchholz is dealing with a muscle strain in his back. [Boston Herald]

STRASBURG'S MECHANICS: Stephen Strasburg is back throwing off a mound, but his mechanics look the same, some observers say. Does he need a change? Sports Illustrated's Will Carroll says he doesn't know (and if Will doesn't know, I certainly don't), but it would be wise for the Nationals to look into some biomechanics analysis to make sure his mechanics weren't the reason for his arm injury.

SWISH BEING SWISH: Nick Swisher said his recent turnaround on the field has allowed him to be himself in the clubhouse. [Wall Street Journal]

ECKSTEIN NOT RETIRED: Former Angels (among other teams) shortstop David Eckstein says he's not retired, he's just choosing not to play. There are teams that would be interested in the game's leader of grit, but isn't sure if he wants to return. He sounds like he just needs to be wined and dined in the right way and he'd return. [Los Angeles Times]

NAME GAME: Just as Hall of Famer Mickey Mantle was responsible for Pete Rose's nickname, "Charlie Hustle," another Hall of Famer hung the moniker "Donnie Baseball" on Don Mattingly. Mattingly said Kirby Puckett gets credit for the nickname. [MLB.com]

NAME CHANGE: Remember the old XFL and Rod "He Hate Me" Smart? The CPBL -- the Chinese Professional Baseball League of Taiwan -- is apparently trying some sort of similar name-changing gimmick with its foreign players. One of those is former Royal Dan Reichert who is now Robert 38. [FanGraphs.com]

DODGERS DREAM TEAM: Steve Garvey has put together what he calls a "Dream Team" to buy the Dodgers, including another former Dodger, Orel Hershiser. [SportsRadioInterviews.com]

DIFFERENT DERBY: The Midwest League featured a different type of home run derby, which featured a hitting contest with more than 50 targets and prizes, including a dunk tank. Really, though, the biggest improvement over the big-league version is the absence of Chris Berman. [Benjamin Hill]

BUTCH'S TIRADE: Former big-leaguer Butch Hobson is now a manager in an Independent League, but his tirade from the other night is certainly worthy of the majors. Check him out has he does a combination of Lloyd McClendon and Terrell Owens. [h/t ItsAlwaysSunnyInDetroit.com]

MASCOT FAIL: Is that a sock or are you just happy to see me? Check out this independent league mascot in Amarillo, Texas. Yep. That's not good. [h/t Big League Stew]

BRING A PACKED LUNCH: I've always wanted to go see a game on one of the Wrigley Field rooftops, and I'd still like to -- I'm just not sure I would eat anything they have. Several rooftop businesses failed their health inspections recently. [Chicago Tribune]

CONGRATS CHONE: FanGraphs.com looks at the worst players in baseball based on 2010 and 2011 -- with Mariners infielder Chone Figgins edging Brewers shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt for the title.

CIVIL WAR-STYLE GAME: If you're in Savannah, Ga., this weekend, you have plenty of entertainment and dining options, but how about checking out some baseball at a Civil War fort? Fort Pulaski will host a game Sunday featuring rules from 1860. [Connect Savannah]

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Posted on: June 29, 2011 1:44 am
Edited on: June 29, 2011 9:40 am
 

3 Up, 3 Down: Lee dominates Red Sox

Lee

By Evan Brunell


3 UpCliff Lee, Phillies -- Lee is so dominant, he befuddled the best offense in baseball. The lefty gave up two hits and walked one while punching out five in a complete-game shutout, his third straight. As Jayson Stark reports, Lee is just the third Phillies starter to ever run up a 30-plus inning scoreless streak -- Robin Roberts in 1950 and Grover C. Alexander twice, setting the record at 41 1/3. James Shields also has three complete games, but not shutouts, which pushed Lee's overall June ERA to a scorching 0.21 and Lee is proving once again why he is one of the best players in the game.

Jose Reyes, Mets -- Reyes has appeared often in this space, and for good reason. He had a 4-for-4 night, contributing a double and triple. The triple was his 15th on the year, which @dte421 notes would have led baseball in 20 of the past 25 seasons, and he's in his 67th game. Reyes was hitting .300 mere days ago and is all the way up to .349 now.

Gio Gonzalez, Athletics -- Gio Gonzalez tossed a one-hitter over eight innings, and if he had some luck against Emilio Bonifacio to lead off the game, could have entered the ninth with a chance for a no-hitter. Instead, after Bonifacio's single to right, Gonzalez held hitters to 0-for-23 with three walks, throwing 106 pitches, which no doubt contributed to him not coming out for the ninth. Gio still has shaky command, but it's progressed dramatically and he's having a fine year with a 2.38 ERA. The Marlins have now dropped 13 in a row and are 3-22 in June.



3 DownZack Greinke, Brewers -- Greinke had a scintillating 80/9 K/BB ratio, but somehow a 4.77 ERA. That pointed to better things ahead, but Tuesday, Greinke collapsed entirely by walking three batters and not striking a single Yankee out in being crushed over two innings. He gave up five hits and seven earned runs, including a Nick Swisher blast. Greinke's peripherals still point to a great season, but he's clearly not right.

Jo-Jo Reyes, Blue Jays -- In 282 2/3 innings as a major leaguer, Jo-Jo Reyes has given up 44 homers. One of those was Tuesday when he was rocked in 3 2/3 innings, giving up six runs on nine hits with one walk and five strikeouts in a loss to the Pirates. But that walk number is misleading as to how his command was -- just six of his 30 four-seam fastballs hit the strike zone, as The Score notes.

Michael Pineda, Mariners -- Apparently it was a bad night for good pitchers. The rookie Pineda, who has absolutely dazzled this year and is in pole position for Rookie of the Year, gave up four runs in 6 1/3 innings to the Braves. Not great, but he walked five and gave up a homer. Those looking on the bright side will note just four hits allowed and five strikeouts. That's all well and good, but it was a bizarre loss of command for Pineda. For now, chalk it up to an off night.

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