Tag:Evan Brunell
Posted on: August 6, 2011 1:12 am

3 Up, 3 Down: Major-league debuts are a blast


By Evan Brunell

upJohnny Giavotella, Royals: The rookie Giavotella, who hit .338/.390/.481 for Triple-A, is the newest wave of Royals youngsters. This one is poised to hold second base for a long time on the strength of his bat and he got things started Friday against the Tigers with a 2-for-3 effort with a walk and run scored, getting his first major-league hit off of Rick Porcello. The 24-year-old tacked on an RBI for good measure, singling home Eric Hosmer in the seventh during a three-run outburst to tie the game. Detroit pushed a run across in the top of the 10th to win the game.

Brett Lawrie, Blue Jays: Lawrie, like Giavotella, was making his major-league debut. This time it was over with Toronto, and he wasted no time showing why he's ticketed to be the Jays' third baseman for the next 10 years by collecting two hits in four trips to the plate, driving in a run with two out. He batted ninth, but that will quickly change. Lawrie could have been called up in early June but took a pitch off the hand a day before he was getting called up which cost him months of recuperation. He's finally up, though, and Toronto's pieces for a nice run starting in 2012 is clicking into place.

Carlos Quentin, White Sox: Another powerful day for Quentin, who rocketed two homers and totaled four RBI on the day to bump his overall line to .259/.346/.512. It's a resurgence for the oft-injured righty, who is on pace to post 34 home runs, just shy of his career high of 46 in 2008. Giving how good pitching is these days though, this could be Quentin's most impressive season.

KarstensJeff Karstens, Pirates: Karstens has been pitching way above his head this year and paid for it Friday with a regression to the mean. He coughed up nine earned runs in 3 1/3 innings, walking one and striking out two. His ERA spiked from 2.49 to 3.05. Still, Karstens has gotten this far pitching this well, so he must be doing something right. While he's simply not a 2.49 ERA kind of pitcher -- and not quite 3.05 either -- he has shown that he can be a very good pitcher.

J.A. Happ, Astros: Ugh. Happ's ERA is now a sky-high 6.26. That's in 22 starts, so it's a legit 6.26. Happ had a 18-8 record from 2009-10 between the Phillies and Houston, posting a 3.09 ERA. Those who looked at peripherals and/or advanced statistics knew this was all a fluke. Those who saw nothing but the win-loss record were delivered a blow this season, as Happ gave up six runs in four innings to the Brewers, walking three and striking out two. Oh, and his record? 4-14. The Houston Chronicle's Zachary Levine notes that Happ is the first pitcher in Astros history to allow at least five runs in eight consecutive starts. Oh, and he's the fourth pitcher since 1948 to allow five runs in eight straight starts.

Drew Stubbs, Reds: Stubbs has skidded this season with a .252/.327/.386 mark. This wasn't supposed to happen, not after Stubbs notched a 20-30 season last year with a .255/.329/.444 mark, but his power has all but vanished this year and leads baseball with 145 strikeouts, three of which came against the Cubs on Friday, going hitless in four at-bats. The loss was the second straight for the Reds, who have gone 4-6 in their last 10 and are now 8 1/2 games out of first with a 54-58 record. If they're going to get to the postseason, they need to at the very least stop losing ground.

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Posted on: August 5, 2011 11:55 pm

Buster Posey to ditch crutches by Monday

By Evan Brunell

PoseyBuster Posey can now put weight on his surgically-repaired left ankle, which was injured in a devastating incident earlier this season. The catcher is still using a crutch, but should be able to ditch it by Sunday or Monday, manager Bruce Bochy told MLB.com.

"He's doing well. He's real close to being able to put all his weight on his leg," Bochy said. "He's got one crutch and can put partial weight on it, but he's coming along fine.

"He seems to be in a great frame of mind with the progress that he's making," Bochy continued. "I know he'll be glad to get rid of that crutch. But he's doing well. He's doing real well. It's good to see him here and making the progress that he's making."

Posey, who has been working out, has watched the Giants stumble in recent days, losing their grip on the division lead in the NL West, battling with Arizona. Out for the year, Posey will return in spring training of 2012.

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Posted on: August 5, 2011 11:25 pm
Edited on: August 6, 2011 12:29 am

MLB warns about steroid alternative in deer spray

By Evan Brunell

Baseball is trying to prevent players from using deer antler spray as an alternative to steroids, SI.com reports.

The velvet from immature deer antlers have been found to include insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1), which controls the level of human growth hormone (HGH) in the body. HGH is banned by baseball because it can help build muscle and cut fat and may be even more effective than steroids. There is no current drug test for HGH as it cannot be detected in urine. No blood testing has been agreed to by the player's union and baseball, which is required to find HGH and IGF-1.

The substance from the deer is sprayed under the tongue and acts as a "anabolic or growth stimulation," with "muscular strength and endurance," one manufacturer said.

Baseball's warning was only about a specific brand of deer spray and not because of IGF-1, but because it's considered a potentially-contaminated nutritional substance. Players were warned that the spray could show up as positive for a banned steroid called methyltestosterone, which is not one of the deer spray's ingredients.

Essentially, baseball is telling players that it has caught on to the new wave of trying to get ahead, and is helping produce a chilling effect by warning that it can show up on drug tests if "contaminated" with a banned substance.

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Category: MLB
Tags: Evan Brunell, MLB
Posted on: August 5, 2011 10:46 pm

Yankees narrowing gap against Red Sox


By Evan Brunell

The Red Sox and Yankees met up Friday for the first time in two months with first place on the line. The last time the two teams met on June 9, Dustin Pedroia's name was distant from the AL MVP discussion, Carl Crawford was a bust, five Yankees looked like complete zeroes with the bat and Rafael Soriano had already fallen out of favor in the Bronx.

Since then, Pedroia has heated up along with the Yankee bats, led by Nick Swisher. Phil Hughes, who was on the disabled list, has returned to the rotation while the Red Sox have battled injuries and attrition in their own rotation, acquiring Erik Bedard with minutes to spare before the trade deadline in an attempt to shore up the staff. While both these teams have undergone changes in the month since, one thing remains the same as it was July 9: the Red Sox is the team to beat in the American League. But the Yankees have improved since June 9 and have narrowed the gap.

On Friday, the Red Sox jumped out to a 2-0 start thanks to a Jacoby Ellsbury RBI double in the third, followed by a towering David Ortiz bomb in the fourth. The Red Sox couldn't push another run across in the fifth when Adrian Gonzalez struck out with the bases loaded. Still, Boston was in control behind the arm of Jon Lester, until the sixth inning when all hell broke loose. Granderson delivered an RBI single, then Lester loaded the bases by walking Mark Teixeira. A crucial double play put two outs on the board, albeit with the tying run scoring. Just as it looked like Boston could get out of the inning with a tie game, Nick Swisher doubled Granderson in to provide the final run of the game, leading to a 3-2 victory for the Yankees and just their second victory against Boston this season, against eight losses to the BoSox.

The bullpen won the game for the Yanks, as Boone Logan would go on to contribute a full inning of relief after whiffing Gonzalez for the final out of the fifth. Cody Wade netted one more out, then Rafael Soriano entered the game for the third time since coming off the disabled list. Signed to an exorbitant contract to set up Mariano Rivera that was orchestrated by the ownership and not GM Brian Cashman, Soriano has been a total zero the entire season. But he delivered his third scoreless appearance post-DL, adding a strikeout for extra measure. David Robinson continued his emergence as a potential Rivera replacement with a 1-2-3 eighth, and Rivera, of course, set down Boston in the ninth.

Now the Yankees are in first place, while Boston falls to second for the first time since July 6. Order has been restored to New York's psyche. And yet, the Yankees shouldn't feel at all comfortable about its standing. For one, the Yankees continue to get surprising production out of Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia, the former of whom only lasted 4 2/3 innings Friday night, giving up seven baserunners and two runs. Phil Hughes seems a mystery wrapped in a riddle, while A.J. Burnett does what he can to make Yankees fans pine for John Lackey. Derek Jeter can't be counted on anymore and the days of a .300 batting average from Mark Teixeira is long past. Boston has its own host of problems, but still has far less risk than New York moving forward with a stronger club, at least on paper.

Of course, two months from now, things may have changed again. All that matters is who the stronger team is in October.

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Posted on: August 5, 2011 10:06 pm

Twins offer Cuddyer two-year contract

By Evan Brunell

CuddyerMichael Cuddyer was recently offered a two-year deal to stay in Minnesota for $16 million, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports.

Cuddyer is completing a three-year, $24 million deal inked in January 2008 that included a club option for 2011 at $10.5 million, which works out to roughly $8.62 million in annual salary. The extension would be a pay cut, but Cuddyer is no spring chicken at age 32. Still, the right-hander could do much better than that deal in free agency. Reports say that the contract offer was put off by Cuddyer, who would prefer to focus on a postseason push and worry about the contract after the year.

Both GM Bill Smith and Cuddyer declined to discuss the rumor. It's not the first time that the two sides have broached contract talks, with the outfielder's agent, Casey Close, attempting to start up talks in the offseason. He was rebuffed, largely because Cuddyer was coming off a down year and proving to be inconsistent, which he's displayed this season as well. His .271/.336/.417 mark in 2010 didn't inspire optimism, although his .276/.342/.520 line the season before did. Cuddyer has alternated great seasons, good seasons and lousy seasons over the last several seasons, making it tough to judge his value.

But 18 home runs and a .301/.370/.494 mark in 2011 makes Cuddyer plenty valuable, especially since he can cover the outfield and infield corner positions plus second base and can even play center in a pinch. He will have plenty of interest from teams after the season, so Minnesota will have to improve upon its offer to keep Cuddyer, although the longtime Twin has indicated a desire to stay with the team.

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Posted on: August 5, 2011 9:41 pm

Hawpe undergoes Tommy John surgery

By Evan Brunell

HawpeBrad Hawpe's season is over after undergoing Tommy John surgery, MLB.com reports.

Hawpe has been out since June 18 and hit just .231/.301/.344 in 195 at-bats. Hawpe was supposed to replace part of Adrian Gonzalez's production and keep the seat warm for prospect Anthony Rizzo, but he couldn't get going and became irrelevant once San Diego collapsed and began looking toward next season. As a result, the Padres won't skip a beat without Hawpe.

The first baseman, who played right field for years in Colorado and returned to that spot once Rizzo reached the majors, may be nearing the end of the line.  There is a mutual option for 2012 for $6 million, but San Diego will certainly exercise the buyout, pay Hawpe $1 million and move on. It may be tough for Hawpe to get a job next year after two straight poor seasons and may have to settle for a non-guaranteed contract and compete in spring training for a spot. Given he is defensively challenged, his value rests entirely in his bat, which has abandoned the 32-year-old.

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Category: MLB
Posted on: August 5, 2011 9:30 pm
Edited on: August 5, 2011 11:29 pm

Rockies' Nicasio hit in face with line drive

By Evan Brunell

NicasioJuan Nicaso was hit in the face with a line drive off the bat of Ian Desmond, sending the Rockies starting pitcher down in a heap and out of the game.

After Nicasio had already given up two runs (one unearned) on two hits in the first, the Nationals shortstop rocketed the hit to kick off the second inning. He was down on the mound for an extended period of time before being placed on a stretcher and neck brace. He was removed on a cart and his hands were moving, CBSSports.com's Danny Knobler reports. It appeared as if he had no chance to defend himself as he had just completed his pitching motion.

Nicasio is in the midst of his rookie season, making 12 starts with a 3.95 ERA entering play on Friday. It's unclear the extent of the damage to Nicasio. We'll update when more information becomes available.

UPDATE: Nicasio "is at a local hospital resting and undergoing tests after being struck on the right side of the head," the Rockies announced on Twitter.

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Posted on: August 5, 2011 8:42 pm

Marlins discussing long-term deal for Stanton


By Evan Brunell

The Marlins have been discussing a long-term contract for Mike Stanton, the prodigious power-hitter who has cranked 47 home runs just 205 games into his career as a 21-year-old.

The report from the Palm Beach Post says that nothing specific in money or years has come up in a discussion, and that an offer would not be made "until next year." Whether that means after the season or during the 2012 season is unclear. Stanton, under baseball's rules, will make the league minimum or near it for his first three years in the majors unless a contract supersedes it. Since the outfielder will only be at 1.118 years of service time after the season, he has two more years at the league  minimum to look forward to.

Thus, any long-term deal is going to have that in mind with a very low base salary for years one and two. If the salary jumps up into the million(s) in the first couple of years, it will be to mitigate the risk of years 3-6 at a lower value. Stanton's three arbitration years will also come at a reduced cost. The general rule of thumb is that players operate on a 40-60-80 salary scale in their arbitration years. That is, a player can be expected to make 40 percent of what he could earn on the free-agent market in his first year of arbitration. His second year of arbitration gives him 60 percent value, and so on. So right off the bat, a five-year deal signed for Stanton after the season will buy out his remaining years of team control at a price you would not even come close to seeing on the free-agent market.

The motivation for Florida to do this deal is to lock in cost certainty over the next five years, with a specific dollar amount attached to Stanton for long-term planning. Plus, they can pay out a discount over and above the league-minimum and arbitration years because Stanton is receiving long-term security. While he might be able to make more going through the arbitration process, it is also an unguaranteed process that could see him released after each season at no cost should he lose all value, whether via injury or other reasons.

The Post refers to the Brewers' Ryan Braun's original contract with the Brewers as an example. Braun inked a eight-year, $45 million deal with Milwaukee when he had 0.129 years of service time, mere days apart from Stanton entering 2011. (One year's service equals 172 days.) Sound low? That's because of how cheap Braun is being paid in the first five years of his deal. In the year after signing the deal -- which would have kicked in this season in Stanton's case -- Braun earned a $455,000 salary, followed up by $745,000 the next year and $1 million in 2010. Then, when Braun would have entered arbitration without the deal, his salaries spiked to $4 million for 2011, $6 million in 2012 and $8.5 million in 2013. His deal goes on for two more years after that at a total price of $22 million. The end years are lower, both because of Braun locking in profits early on and earning significantly over the league minimum in years two and three of his deal.

Stanton has a .259/.330/.528 mark this season in 427 place appearances, blasting 25 home runs. If he can boost his average, he can become one of the best players the game has ever seen. Even if not, he'll remain an elite player and will come at a heavy cost to Florida. Stanton will have to chose long-term certainty over exorbitant salaries if both sides are to come to a deal. Otherwise, Stanton could choose to risk that he stays healthy and continues excelling, at which point he would make a significant amount of money through the arbitration process.

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