Tag:Evan Brunell
Posted on: July 24, 2011 11:35 pm

3 Up, 3 Down: Monster day for Upton


By Evan Brunell

UptonJustin Upton, Diamondbacks
: Justin Upton was a one-man wrecking crew on Sunday, going 4 for 4 with three RBI, two runs, a walk and stolen base as Arizona blanked the Rockies 7-0. Oh, and this came on the backing of a double, triple and two singles. This is coming off a six-RBI game on Saturday, so the 23-year-old is scorching hot and has lifted his overall line to .301/.378/.526 on the season. He's clearly the linchpin of the Diamondbacks' offense, and any chance of Upton being traded has gone up in smoke. (Check out that picture above, where you can see what looks like wood dust coming off the bat. That's power.)

Madison Bumgarner, Giants: Division rival Chad Billingsley actually had the more impressive pitching line on the night, but Bumgarner's 7 2/3 innings pitched with eight hits allowed, one earned run, zero walks and eight strikeouts is plenty enough to carry the day. This is part of a larger trend, as the lefty has whiffed 64 batters in his past 62 innings, ranging all the way back to June 1. He's only walked five batters in this time span with three home runs, so it's little surprise that his ERA has plummeted to 3.56 from 4.06 six starts ago.

David Wright, Mets: The Marlins edged New York 5-4, but Wright was a star in the game, going 3 for 4 with two runs and RBI apiece. He added a double to his two-run home run in the seventh inning to send the Mets up 4-3. He's had two excellent games in the three games he's been back and has gone a combined 6-for-14, with four extra-base hits and six RBI. Not a bad return for the 28-year-old.

DownGio Gonzalez, Athletics: Gonzalez just didn't have it Sunday against the Yankees, getting knocked around for six runs in 4 2/3 innings. The lefty was touched up for seven hits and issued three free passes against just five strikeouts. Two starts ago, Gonzalez also gave up seven runs to the Rangers in just four innings, but only three were earned.  Before Sunday, his worst start was all the way back on April 25, when he allowed four earned runs in five innings to the Angels.The 25-year-old has tossed 120 innings on the year, pacing for 199 2/3. This after throwing 200 innings last season in his first full turn in the rotation. At some point you have to take the gloves off, but is Gonzalez tiring?

Francisco Liriano, Twins: Liriano being his old inconsistent self? Never woulda guessed. In blowups that are all too prone with the talented lefty, Liriano allowed four earned runs in 2 1/3 innings, allowing six hits and four walks while only striking out three. Yuck. The outing sent his ERA to 4.86. How inconsistent is Liriano? Consider his last six games, and I assure your, the pattern repeats itself: 2 1/3 IP 4 ER, 6 IP 1 ER, 7 IP 1 ER, 4 1/3 IP 5 ER, 7 IP 2 ER, 3 2/3 IP 5 ER.

Ubaldo Jimenez, Rockies: In a game in which 20-plus scouts were in attendance, Ubaldo Jimenez gifted five earned runs in five innings -- his worst start since May 27. "It doesn't affect me," Jimenez told the Associated Press of the trade talk. "I know it's time for the rumors and there are going to be rumors. I will just try to go to the stadium and do my thing. Every time I try to get hitters out and what's going to happen is going to happen. You never know, but I am ready for whatever."

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Posted on: July 24, 2011 8:45 pm
Edited on: July 24, 2011 9:01 pm

Giants turn eyes toward B.J. Upton

UptonBy Evan Brunell

Is it leverage or is there actual interest?

The Giants have been after Carlos Beltran hot and heavy these last few days, and apparently the idea of giving up top pitching prospect Zach Wheeler has grown to be more and more acceptable in fan and media circles as a price. That's hooey -- you don't trade an elite prospect for two months of an aging slugger, no matter how important he may be to the lineup.

Perhaps as a rebuttal to New York's demands, word has gotten out that the Giants are interested in the Rays' B.J. Upton, reports Fox Sports. While Upton's price isn't lower than Beltran's -- in fact, it might be higher -- two things work in Upton's favor. First is his age, as Upton will turn 27 in late August, while Beltran is 34. Add in Beltran making $18.5 million on the year, plus the inability for the team to offer arbitration, as it was written in his contract, and suddenly Beltran pales in comparison to Upton, who is under team control for one more season and is playing for the relatively cheap price of $4.825 million.

Of course, production has to be considered. Beltran is raking to the clip of a .291/.393/.520 mark while Upton struggles along at .229/.310/.395. This is a player, though, that once hit 24 home runs at age 22 (and batted .300) while stealing over 40 bases a year regularly. The potential for Upton is off the charts, and the feeling in baseball is that he's primed for a breakout as soon as he gets out of Tampa Bay.

Wheeler makes sense as a cost for Upton, but not Beltran. San Francisco isn't the only one with this idea, though, as a fellow Beltran suitor has been linked to Upton lately, with the Indians inquiring.

This seems more likely to be mere leverage the Giants are exercising, though. Right now, they're in "win now" mode, plus GM Brian Sabean is loathe to trade away his top prospects. That would seem to work against an Upton deal moreso than  a Beltran one. But Sabean needs to do his due diligence and show Alderson there are other options out there. Because the way it stands, there won't be a deal between San Francisco and New York -- not if Wheeler is the asking price.

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Posted on: July 24, 2011 7:09 pm
Edited on: July 24, 2011 8:45 pm

Red Sox to place Drew on DL, on hunt for OF

DrewBy Evan Brunell

The Red Sox will place J.D. Drew on the disabled list on Monday with an impingement in the left shoulder, Sean McAdam of CSNNE.com reports.

Drew has suffered through a subpar season at the plate, hitting just .219/.317/.305 in 271 plate appearances -- not exactly the greatest way to perform in a contract year. He recently lost his right-field job to Josh Reddick and underwent an MRI for his shoulder issue, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reported earlier.

Putting Drew on the DL at this point is a no-brainer. He's riding the bench as a veteran hitter in the midst of an awful season. Drew will now get an opportunity to rest and come back healthy, which could make all the difference in his hitting numbers.

In the interim, the Red Sox will continue starting Reddick, but there's that problem of a backup outfielder. Darnell McDonald can hit against lefties but is challenged against right-handers. Currently, he's the only backup outfielder of any relevance on the 40-man spot. Boston could recall backup infielder Drew Sutton, who has a couple games experience in the outfield. Similarly, backup infielder Yamaico Navarro has outfield experience, already appearing in two games in left field at the major-league level, plus seeing time at all three outfield positions at Triple-A in addition to his infield duties.

But these are backup middle infielders with some ability to play outfield, not a lot. If the Red Sox want a true backup outfielder, they'll need to continue carrying Navarro as their only backup infielder and go the external route, as the only other outfielder on the 40-man spot is Ryan Kalish, who has been sidelined since April with a torn labrum in his shoulder. Adding Daniel Nava back to the 40-man and calling him up is one possibility. Cafardo bandies about another possibility on Twitter in a trade, as he says the Sox may be on the hunt for someone to fill Drew's spot.

It's possible the Red Sox will acquire strictly a backup outfielder, but more than likely they have their eye on someone who can start or platoon with Ryan Kalish. One of the more popular "middle value" outfield targets available is Ryan Ludwick. The Red Sox could also be gearing up to acquire Carlos Beltran, but it would be surprising for the BoSox to give up one of the prospects they would be required to with Beltran bidding running hot and heavy.

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Posted on: July 24, 2011 1:52 pm
Edited on: July 24, 2011 2:19 pm

Pirates in no hurry to recall Alvarez

AlvarezBy Evan Brunell

When Pedro Alvarez went on the disabled list with a right quad strain in late May, many believed he would return to his third base gig before long, despite an anemic .203/.283/.304 line.

But after a rehab stint, Alvarez was demoted to Triple-A, much to his displeasure. It's hard to blame Pittsburgh for the demotion -- even with Alvarez's power potential, he just wasn't delivering.

The problem is that Brandon Wood and Chase D'Arnaud haven't delivered either. With Alvarez hitting .350/.444/.550 in 72 plate appearances down on the farm with three home runs, manager Clint Hurdle isn't sold that Alvarez is needed right now, even as the club chases a winning season for the first time since 1992.

"It's a two-edged sword," Hurdle said. "You want to take both of those factors [production vs. development] into play. I think we're probably getting as good as information as you can get."

Hurdle added that by competing in Triple-A, Alvarez may be able to take a step forward. That sounds counter to logic, as Alvarez seems to have nothing left to prove, and any future development is likely to come in the bigs. But Hurdle disagrees.

"I think one of the biggest challenges for young hitters is, they put in tireless preparation," Hurdle said. "They spend countless hours in practice on honing a skill. The biggest challenge is taking that work and trusting that work in a game.

"What we're encouraging Pedro to do is just stay, hold fast, to that process that he's working through and trust it and actually give all that hard work an opportunity to play out in a game, and what better environment to do it in where the consequences and the final result isn't as magnified as it is here?"

Regardless, as Pittsburgh searches for bats and a way to keep its pitching rotation afloat, Alvarez represents one of the best ways for the Pirates to improve its club without having to give up anything. It would be a surprise if Alvarez wasn't back with the club by the beginning of August.

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Posted on: July 24, 2011 12:57 pm
Edited on: July 24, 2011 1:11 pm

Could Hunter Pence be a fit with Mariners?


By Evan Brunell

Over the last two games, I had the pleasure -- if one could call it that -- of watching the Mariners battle the Red Sox at Fenway Park.

To no one's surprise, Seattle lost the first two games, running its losing streak to 14. It's gotten so desperate out in Seattle that manager Eric Wedge lopped off his enormous handlebar mustache to try to shake things up.

Unfortunately, the loss of Wedge's mustache won't mitigate the brutal offense of the team. In fact, there's only one player in Seattle's regular starting lineup that would have a prayer of cracking Boston's lineup. That's second baseman Dustin Ackley, who bats third for Seattle. The problem is, while he would certainly supplant shortstop Marco Scutaro in Boston's lineup, he can't play short and Dustin Pedroia isn't stepping aside for Ackley.

Seattle was a historically inept offensive club last season, and while its improved this year, it's not by much. Before this losing streak, Seattle was right in the thick of the division race, but it's hard to stay in the hunt when you just can't push runs across. Improving the team's offense is of the highest priority int he offseason, but why wait there?

Hunter Pence of the Astros would be a great fit for Seattle, and the Mariners can bring Pence in immediately to at least try to end the season on a high note.

There are three ways Pence fits with the Mariners. First is his offense, obviously. Second is his position of right field, and lastly is his age and contract.

If the Mariners acquired Pence, he would certainly start batting third or fourth in the order on the strength of his .309/.354/.474 mark. While it's not a career-best line, it is his best offensive performance relative to the league, as his .322/.360/.539 mark back in 2007 was in a healthier offensive climate. The ways that Pence would upgrade Seattle are clear -- it's the same way Pence would upgrade every other team. He's a strong hitter with the ability to steal 20 bases in a season and is also a strong fielder.

Speaking of fielding, Pence plays right field, a position occupied by Ichiro Suzuki. That's not a problem, though, because Pence could easily shift to left field and then become Ichiro's eventual replacement, should Pence remain with the Mariners at the time. Mike Carp is currently the (new) starting left fielder, so isn't exactly blocking anyone as a Quad-A player trying to make good in the bigs.

The negative -- if you can call it that -- on Pence is his contract. He's making $6.9 million on the season and has two more years of arbitration to go. Given Pence will likely crack $10 million in arbitration earnings next season, that means his price is rising, and rising fast. On the other hand, Pence offers two additional years of team control beyond 2011, which would be a must in Seattle's case.

It's not about 2011 anymore; it's about 2012 and beyond for Seattle. The pitching is rounding into shape, and now it's time for the offense to take hold. Prince Fielder has been linked to Seattle in the past, but free agency is never a sure bet. Besides, even with Pence on the team, it wouldn't preclude a run at Fielder, which would suddenly give Seattle something resembling a solid offense. People forget, but Seattle is a big-market team that hasn't played big market for a few years. Back in 2008, its $118 million payroll ranked ninth in all of baseball. In 2011, the Mariners are 16th with an $84 million payroll. Seattle has money to play with, so Pence's salary isn't as important as the fact Seattle would control him through 2013 at the earliest.

Of course, what the M's would have to give up in a trade has to be considered. It's safe to say that Michael Pineda won't go anywhere, but the M's have a deep enough farm system that they could get a deal done if they so desired.

Here's where we mention that there hasn't been anything linking Pence to the Mariners whatsoever. Either that's because there's nothing there or both teams are doing a stupendous job keeping quiet about it. But it's a move Seattle needs to consider to upgrade its offense. Dabbling in free agency won't be enough. Seattle has to strike soon to bolster the offense and give the team a chance to win.

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Posted on: July 24, 2011 12:21 pm
Edited on: July 24, 2011 1:05 pm

Cardinals could deal Rasmus to White Sox


By Evan Brunell

Despite constant denials, the Cardinals appear to have made center fielder Colby Rasmus available in discussions with the White Sox, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.

Rasmus and the Cardinals have never had a strong relationship, with the center fielder requesting a trade multiple times last season. Given his potential as a middle of the order hitter, however, it's no surprise that St. Louis has hung on. But with Rasmus struggling and recently being supplanted by Jon Jay in center field, the Cardinals may now be willing to move the 24-year-old, who is hitting just .241/.327/.402 in 374 plate appearances, a far cry from his .276/.361/.498 mark last season, when he cranked 23 homers. The Cardinals know darn well just how important Rasmus can be to a team, whether it be St. Louis or another club, so the switch-hitter will cost another team a pretty penny.

Discussions have taken place around one of Chicago's starting pitchers, especially Edwin Jackson, slated to become a free agent. It's unlikely the team would consider trading its other pitchers in Gavin Floyd, John Danks and Mark Buehrle, although the latter grew up (and remains) a Cardinals fan, with many believing the left-hander will eventually pitch for the Cardinals. Buehrle is also an impending free agent, but it's unlikely Chicago will want to part with the lefty who has succeeded for so many years in the hitter's park that is U.S. Cellular. The Post also suggests the name Matt Thornton, a left-handed reliever who could bolster St. Louis' bullpen and even serve as its closer.

The trade appears so far apart that there is talk of bringing in a third team to complete the deal. That suggests that a deal is not particularly close, but things can always change once the clock ticks closer to 4 p.m. next Sunday. Part of the issue is the White Sox trying to decide if they are buyers or sellers. The upcoming three-game series against Detroit should help determine that. If it's time to sell, a Jackson-for-Rasmus trade suddenly becomes far more possible.

Rasmus also interests the Nationals and Rays, with Tampa Bay also willing to give up starting pitching. The best piece Washington could cough up is shortstop Ian Desmond, of which there are conflicting reports as to his availability. The Nats had a scout follow St. Louis on a nine-game road trip that ends Sunday.

While it's a no-brainer for Chicago to acquire a young centerfielder of the future, especially if all they give up is a pitcher that was going to hit free agency anyway, it would represent a roster crunch. Carlos Quentin, he of 20 bombs on the season, isn't going anywhere in right field. Alex Rios has been a massive disappointment in center and could move to left to make room for Rasmus, but that would displace Juan Pierre, a personal favorite of manager Ozzie Guillen.

Also complicating matters is the presence of left-field prospect Dayan Viciedo, who deserves to be starting in the majors now, but is blocked by Pierre. Unless Viciedo is part of this Rasmus deal, he would be certain to open 2012 in left, so that may require Rios to hit the bench.

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Posted on: July 24, 2011 11:32 am
Edited on: July 24, 2011 11:45 am

On Deck: Halladay squares off against Stauffer

On Deck

By Evan Brunell

Follow all games live with CBSSports.com's GameTracker.

StaufferHalladayBEST MATCHUP
: Tim Stauffer and Roy Halladay battle each other on the hill in Sunday's best matchup, which features the only two pitchers with sub-3.00 ERAs heading up against each other. The Phillies ace you know plenty about, with Halladay registering a 2.57 ERA. Just another day at the office. Stauffer, meanwhile, is a former first-round pick gone bust who suddenly is delivering on his promise. While his success has been aided by Petco Park somewhat, a 2.83 ERA is impressive no matter where you pitch, and his defense-independent ERA (xFIP) is a stable 3.28. Padres vs. Phillies, 1:35 p.m. ET

White SoxIndiansCENTRAL RACE: The Indians are clinging to second place in the AL Central, just one game behind the Tigers. While Indians have predictably fallen off since their hot start, at this point they should be able to stay in the race barring a monumental collapse. Calling up second baseman Jason Kipnis should help the team move past the losses of Shin-Soo Choo and Grady Sizemore on offense. Justin Masterson will take the mound with a 2.64 ERA. One interesting subplot is to watch how many fastballs Masterson tosses -- 103 of 104 pitches his last time out against the Twins were all fastballs. The ChiSox, meanwhile, are 4 1/2 out of first and have an opportunity to narrow the gap with Edwin Jackson on the hill White Sox vs. Indians, 1:05 p.m. ET

WillisSTAYING IN THE HUNT: Atlanta needs to win to stay in the division hunt, as a four-game winning streak by the Phillies has their lead up to five games. While Atlanta remains in the driver's seat for the wild card, it's too early for the Braves to pack in the division title chase, especially if they can import a bat at the trade deadline. Cincy, meanwhile, is four games out of a winnable NL Central and will send resurgent Dontrelle Willis to the mound to oppose Brandon Beachy. Willis will get to face Dan Uggla for the first time since the left-hander was traded to Detroit before the 2008 season. Braves vs. Reds 8:05 p.m. ET

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Posted on: July 22, 2011 12:19 am

3 Up, 3 Down: Wilson loses despite stellar game


By Evan Brunell

C.J. Wilson, Rangers: Wilson made history on Thursday, and not the good kind. He's in 3 Up because of the excellent performance he put forth: Wilson pitched an eight-inning complete game but lost due to an unearned run scoring thanks to an error. He limited the Angels to just two hits, one walk and eight strikeouts. Normally, that's enough to pull out a win with ease. But Wilson was going up against Jered Weaver, who blanked the Rangers through seven to drop his ERA to 1.81. Wilson is the first pitcher to lose a two-hit complete game with no earned runs since the Yankees' Kenny Rogers on May 28, 1996, as ESPN Stats and Info tweets. That's not all. On the MLB Network scrolling newsbar, it was noted that the last time Texas lost while limiting the opposition to two hits or fewer was August 15, 1989. So yeah, he made some bad history, but twirled quite a game.

Jordan Walden, Angels: Walden lands here not just because of what he did Thursday, but what he also did on Wednesday. The Angels dropped the first game of the series to Texas, running the Rangers' winning streak to 12. But Los Angeles eked out one-run wins each of the next two nights, and it was Walden who closed out both games with 100-mph heat. That's some sizzle coming from the rookie, who now has 23 saves on the season, striking out 43 in 41 innings. Other players (such as Jeremy Hellickson) will get more attention in Rookie of the Year voting, but don't forget about Walden.

Jhonny Peralta, Tigers: Peralta went boom in a very big way, launching a home run into the second deck of left field in the 8th inning to emphatically defeat the Twins 6-2 -- but not before Detroit's new third baseman in Wilson Betemit made a comical throw in the ninth that allowed a run to come in. Peralta had three hits and three RBI and is up to .317/.364/.533, numbers he hasn't seen since 2005, his first full season in the bigs.

Logan Morrison, Marlins: LoMo is struggling lately, with his latest 0-for-4 dropping his batting average to .147 since the All-Star break. But that's symptomatic of a larger trend, as Morrison is slashing .212/.274/.394 since the beginning of June, which does not include his Thursday ofer. Somehow, he's collected 30 RBI so is still doing OK in that department, but the power hitter is really struggling right now. He saw a potential two-run home run stolen away by Cameron Maybin in the first inning. Morrison later wrote something on a baseball and tossed it to Maybin, tweeting after that he had written "'U can take my HR but u cannot take my freedom' #Braveheart." It's nice to see Morrison still has his humor.

Jhoulys Chacin, Rockies: Chacin walked a career high seven batters in this outing and it's the third time he's walked at least six in the last six outings. That does sound pretty bad, but in his defense, had issued just one free pass in each of his two most recent outings before this stinker against the Braves in which he gave up five runs in 4 2/3 innings. Chacin is on pace to throw 208 2/3 innings on the year. This from a 23-year-old topped out at 137 1/3 innings last season in his first full year of the majors. Colorado may want to scale back.

Brandon Allen, Diamondbacks: Allen has a chance here to grab onto the starting job at first base and not let go. Arizona cleared the team of Russell Branyan quite some time ago and now has optioned Juan Miranda to Triple-A. Allen was given the call over Paul Goldschmidt, so he has some competition in the minors waiting for him. He got off to a good start yesterday by slugging a home run but today contributed an all too common 0-for-3 night with two strikeouts. Allen's power is awesome, but his issue in past big-league stints has been his strikeouts dragging him down. The D-Backs, after losing shortstop Stephen Drew for the season, may not have a ton of patience, as they need to keep contending.

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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