Tag:Evan Brunell
Posted on: July 21, 2011 7:56 pm
Edited on: July 21, 2011 8:24 pm

Red Sox want to talk extension with Ellsbury


By Evan Brunell

Earlier on Thursday, Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein admitted the club has tried to lock up center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury to a long-term deal, only to come up short.

"It's not a secret we sat down and tried in the past to lock Jacoby up, and I hope we'll sit down in the future and try to do it once more at the appropriate time," Epstein told the Dennis & Callahan Show on WEEI.

Ellsbury missed all but 18 games last season. He was called out by players, media and fans alike for a perceived inability to push through injury and stay on the field. This year, finally healthy, he's seen a remarkable power spike and has played in all but one game, contributing a .316/.375/.509 mark in 431 plate appearances with 15 home runs. This after totaling 20 in the four previous seasons, racking up 1,510 at-bats. With 28 stolen bases, he's been a threat on the basepaths and appears a lock for a 20/20 season, and 30/30 can't be ruled out in future years.

The 27-year-old says he isn't doing anything different and was focused first and foremost in the offseason on coming back from injury. Manager Terry Francona told the Boston Globe it all has to do with discipline.

“It’s knowing the strike zone and knowing the league," Francona said. "He’s probably turning into a better hitter. Confident.”

Ellsbury is earning $2.4 million in 2011, a figure that will skyrocket in arbitration given the season he has had and the fact that he will be in his second year of arbitration for 2012. Ellsbury has been referred to as a "core member of the organization," and Epstein says he wants him to stay with the club. That will be difficult with new agent Scott Boras, who replaced Joe Urbon last season as Ellsbury's agent.

Boras prefers his clients to get to free agency as fast as possible. He often recommends to players -- and they tend to follow his advice -- that they not sign extensions with the original club, and doubly so if the extension is in any way tilting to the team's favor. (Carlos Gonzalez is an exception, overruling Boras to ink a seven-year, $80 million deal with the Rockies in the offseason.)

"We have certain organizational standards that have to be met, but we worked hard and were able to meet those standards with the [Dustin] Pedroias, with the [Kevin] Youkilis' and the [Jon] Lesters of the world, so we would love to one day announce that Jacoby is going to stick around this organization for a really long time. This is where he should be."

Epstein is referring to getting a club option attached onto any long-term deal agreed to with young players who have yet to hit free agency. Pedroia, in the third year of a six-year, $40.5 million deal, has a club option for 2015, and Youkilis has one for 2013. Lester, meanwhile, has one for 2014. David Ortiz's and Josh Beckett's previous deals also came with club options.

While Epstein may still be able to corral Ellsbury into an extension before he hits the market, it's doubtful there will be any type of hometown discount. Boston is one of the few teams that can afford to ink Ellsbury, discount or no discount. But if the center fielder does hit free agency, he would be in hot demand. This is one player Epstein may not be able to sign, at least not without Ellsbury testing free agency.

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Posted on: July 21, 2011 7:02 pm
Edited on: July 21, 2011 7:21 pm

Padres send out Rizzo, call up Blanks

BlanksBy Evan Brunell

The Padres demoted first baseman Anthony Rizzo to Triple-A after he struggled in his big-league debut. Rizzo hit just .143/.282/.265 in 117 plate appearances, bashing just one home run.

This after tearing apart Triple-A in 52 games, blasting 16 home runs and contributing a .365 average. That smacks of someone who no longer needs any seasoning, but the 21-year-old couldn't figure out the bigs in time to save his job. While he should be back by September at the latest, the new first baseman for the team is Kyle Blanks (pictured).

You may recall Blanks from back in 2009, when the then 22-year-old bombed 10 home runs in 54 games. He was Mike Stanton before Stanton completely rewrote the books on power from young players. Blanks couldn't keep the good times rolling in 2010 before undergoing Tommy John surgery and missing much of the season. He got off to a late start this season after missing more time due to Tommy John recovery, but since then he has been a man on a mission.

Buried at Double-A due to Rizzo at Triple-A, Blanks, 24, hit .282/.353/.475 in 201 PA but turned on the jets upon promotion to Triple-A. He's cranked 11 home runs for Tucson, which is admittedly a hitter's environment, but a .351/.421/.716 line isn't one to sneeze at regardless of where you hit. Blanks' future is likely in left field once Rizzo sticks for good, but in the interim he should give the Padres some thump with his bat as well as some time to evaluate Blanks to determine how he fits in the 2012 puzzle.

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Posted on: July 21, 2011 5:17 pm
Edited on: July 21, 2011 7:43 pm

Orlando Hudson leaves game with head injury


By Evan Brunell

Orlando Hudson suffered a severe injury Thursday, crashing into a wall on the first-base side when diving to make a catch on Omar Infante's pop-up in foul ground. Hudson made a lunging grab just prior to the warning track, with his momentum carrying him into a dive. His head made contact with the padded wall, angling his body just before collision for the back of his head and right shoulder to absorb the impact, but he ended up being knocked unconscious.

 "It was a scary moment," manager Bud Black told the Associated Press. "When a guy goes unconscious, you're worried. Any sort of collision with a wall or a teammate is just a sickening feeling in your stomach, and I think we all had that."

Hudson, whose catch ended the seventh inning with a 5-3 Padres lead, was sighted moving his arms before being carried off the field in a stretcher, shaking hands with a teammate. The injury appeared scarier than it actually was, as Hudson was walking around after the game, texting on his phone and acting normally.

The 33-year-old has long been one of the best fielding second basemen in the game and is hitting .239/.335/.317 in his first season with San Diego, swiping a season-high 13 stolen bases.

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Posted on: July 20, 2011 11:29 pm
Edited on: July 21, 2011 3:24 am

Drew gruesomely fractures ankle; Gomez hurt

By Evan Brunell

Stephen Drew, the Diamondbacks' shortstop, severely injured his ankle in the bottom of the fourth inning when he was called out at home against the Brewers. Arizona was down 1-0 at the time, and that score has held to the seventh inning. Milwaukee's Carlos Gomez also left the game with his own rough injury: a broken collarbone.

Drew's foot caught under his leg as he slid, twisting entirely in the opposite direction. He immediately grabbed his foot, twisted it back correctly and then collapsed to the ground. The Diamondbacks put out on Twitter that the 28-year-old fractured his ankle, with surgery likely. Manager Kirk Gibson said Drew is done for the season and said he "probably" needs surgery.

Gomez was sharing time in center with Nyjer Morgan this season. Gomez had earned 231 plate appearances to date and hit a putrid .222/.272/.382 line. He's not a major loss, but it still thins out the Brewers, who are now suddenly in need of an outfielder without many internal options.

Warning: The video below depicting Drew's injury is graphic.

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Posted on: July 20, 2011 10:54 pm
Edited on: July 20, 2011 11:09 pm

Tigers designate Inge for assignment

IngeBy Evan Brunell

The Tigers designated third baseman Brandon Inge for assignment to make room for incoming third baseman Wilson Betemit, who was acquired from the Royals on Wednesday.

MLB.com's Jason Beck reports that Inge will accept an assignment to Triple-A Toledo should he clear waivers. With $6 million remaining on Inge's deal after this season, which runs through 2012 with a 2013 club option that was signed this past offseason, it's a lock that Inge will clear waivers. He would then have been able to refuse assignment to the farm, but would have had to give up his contract -- plus leave Detroit, which Inge has said in the past he has no intention of doing. Instead, the defensive wizard will head to Toledo and try to figure out where his bat has gone. Inge's .177/.242/.242 line has been a black hole for Detroit, currently scrapping for the division lead in the AL Central.

"Brandon has done a lot for the organization," GM Dave Dombrowski told the Grand Rapids Press. We would not have signed him this winter if we didn't think he was going to come out and do very well for us, or do solidly.

"It hasn't happened this year and I think we're at the point where, playing him every day, we just don't see it happening right now," Dombrowski added.

While Inge could have stayed on the roster and operated as a defensive specialist, certainly needed given Betemit's butchering of third base defensively, Dombrowski told CBSSports.com's Danny Knobler that he considers Don Kelly to be ahead of Inge on the third base depth chart, so jettisoning Inge then became the obvious move.

"Can he get his swing back and make things happen?" Dombrowski asked. "Hopefully, that happens. But right now, we look at it from our own situation, trying to win, and it just hasn't happened.

"We're in a production-oriented business, and I'm sure some of those people who are booing him loudly now have cheered him in the past. And if he gets hits, they'll cheer him once again. But right now, he's scuffling. It affects you."

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Posted on: July 20, 2011 10:16 pm
Edited on: July 20, 2011 10:55 pm

Dunn admits to thinking about quitting

By Evan Brunell

Adam Dunn is mired in such a deep and seemingly neverending slump that he admits quitting has crossed his mind, Yahoo! Sports writes.

“If I’m not having fun anymore, I’ll go home,” Dunn said. “Flat out. I’ll go home. I mean that. Swear to goodness. I’ll. Go. Home. I enjoy playing. Even though I suck. Or have been sucking. I enjoy playing the game. Love it. But as soon as I lose that, I’m gone, dude. It’s true."

Dunn's slump has lasted all season with a miserable .158/.289/.299 line heading into Wednesday's game. All these are rock-bottom career lows, and if the batting average holds, he will obliterate Rob Deer's .179 mark in 1991 as the lowest by a player in quite some time. In addition, Dunn's 124 strikeouts put him on pace for 204 at the end of the season, which would give him a 200-strikeout season for the first time in his career.

“How many games can you play doing this? This is ridiculous," Dunn said. You get to a point, and you’re like …”

Still, don't expect Dunn to quit even if he talks about doing just that.

“It’s not going to happen,” he says. “Zero chance. Zero. You can’t get this competition anywhere else, dude. I don’t care where you look. Nowhere else. It’s one-on-one, dude. And you can’t find that anywhere."

Dunn can't make heads or tails of his slump, saying he feels fine at the plate -- mentally he's in the game, physically nothing's hurting and mechanically his swing is fine.

“I’ll have a good couple of games, and then … phhhhhh,” Dunn added. “I can’t get hot. Maybe it’s going to be one of those things where the last two months are just gonna be epic. I don’t know why they can’t be.

“There’s been times where it’s like, ‘Here we go. I’ve got it. It’s back.’ And then the next day I’ll run into a guy who pitches me good, and it’s like, ‘Oh, crap.’…”

Looking at the numbers, you can see that Dunn is suffering from a low batting average on balls in play, with just 23.5 percent of his batted balls falling in for hits. This is compared to a 29.3 percent career average. That's not enough to justify Dunn's failures though, because he could just be making weaker contact. His spiking strikeout rate and inability to catch up to fastballs to the point that pitchers are throwing him heaters like never before lends some credence to the idea that his bat has slowed just enough to destroy his chances of being productive. It doesn't help that the average fastball velocity that he's seeing is at a career-high 92.1 mph. He was seeing a lot of 89- and 90-mph fastballs up until 2009. That year, it ticked up to 91-mph -- but he didn't have trouble with those either. He certainly is now. He simply can't do a thing against fastballs.

One potential issue could be Dunn's expansion of the strike zone. Up until last season, he had offered at 20 percent or less of outside pitches. That spiked to 28.5 percent last season, the trend continuing with a 27 percent mark this year, while his offerings at pitches inside the zone have remained constant. Is Dunn expanding the strike zone to try to compensate for poorer pitch recognition or slower bat speed? Possibly, but cranking 38 home runs last season with a .260 batting average suggests other things are at play. Whatever they are, Dunn wants it to end as fast as possible and still harbors hope that he can have an elite August and September to put Chicago in the driver's seat for the division title.

“There’s two ways to do it," Dunn said on how to handle a slump. "You can sit and pout and ‘why me’ or you can say we’ve got 60 or 70 or 80 games left to start your year. For two months, be the best player in the league. And if I can do that, we’re going to win a lot of games. I’m blessed with that kind of attitude, and thank God, because I don’t know what I’d be doing. I know some people the big man upstairs wouldn’t do this to because there would be some bad things happening.”

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Posted on: July 20, 2011 7:46 pm
Edited on: July 20, 2011 7:57 pm

CBS News interviews Jack McKeon

By Evan Brunell

On Wednesday, CBS News interviewed Marlins manager Jack McKeon, who has led the Marlins to a 15-10 record since taking them over, plus winning nine of the past 11. All at the tender age of 80 in his second stint at the helm of the Marlins during a managerial career that began in 1955.

"Why should experience be penalized?" McKeon asked in the video, which you can watch above. "I did think that no one would rehire me because of the age factor, but no, I'm not too old."

McKeon did notice a change this time around in managerial style, in which he has focused on keeping the team loose, happy and determined to win.

"I'm more patient. I don't let little things bother me anymore," McKeon says. "Losses don't bother me."

Check out CBSSports.com's Danny Knobler on McKeon, who has become the most popular man in Miami.

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Category: MLB
Posted on: July 20, 2011 1:13 am
Edited on: July 20, 2011 5:34 pm

3 Up, 3 Down: Betancourt smacks two homers


By Evan Brunell

BetancourtYuniesky Betancourt, Brewers: Yes, really. Betancourt tops our list of 3 Up thanks to his two-homer explosion in Arizona, adding on a single for a 3-for-5 night. In a 11-3 victory, Betancourt stuffed the box score with three runs scored and four RBI. No stolen base, but who needs one? That pushes Betancourt's slash stats to .245/.262/.367, which is still super-bad and won't stop Milwaukee from trying to trade for someone better, but at least Betancourt got a bit of limelight.

Jason Isringhausen, Mets
: So, apparently Jason Isringhausen is the new closer in town as he grabbed the save opportunity tonight and ran with it, racking up his first save since August 2008. In the 4-2 defeat of the Cards, Izzy punched out a batter and allowed no baserunners, which takes him to a career 294 games saved and just six away from 600. It's quite a comeback story for Isringhausen, who likely will lose the Comeback Player of the Year Award to Ryan Vogelsong, but Isringhausen deserves to be considered as well.

Brandon Allen, Diamondbacks: I had the pleasure of attending the All-Star Game at Chase Field this past week, so seeing Brandon Allen's monstrous home run in the fifth inning left me stunned -- and Justin Upton, too. Upton helpfully pointed out to another stupefied teammate that Allen's solo homer landed "right on top" of a scoreboard way in deep right. That's 455 feet away, the team reports. It's easy to read that and go "oh, cool" and move on. But it's something else when you have that park visualized so clearly in your mind and appreciate the sheer, awesome power behind that homer. Oh, and the Diamondbacks TV announcers were incredulous as to the 455-foot claim, saying the blast traveled 480 feet or more.

BrazobanYhency Brazoban, Diamondbacks: Brazoban came in to try and stave off disaster for Arizona, which was down 6-3 at the time to the Brewers. He came in with the bases loaded thanks to Zach Duke giving up a walk and two infield singles. Unfortunately, Brazoban, who has electric stuff and often no idea where it's going, allowed all three runners to score by doing it in only a way the right-hander can. In his sixth game of the season after last appearing in the majors in 2008, Brazoban got 0-2 on Corey Hart then walked him by issuing three straight balls to end the at-bat. The next pitch out of his hand hit Nyjer Morgan, then he issued yet another walk to Carlos Gomez of all people. That ended Brazoban's night -- but Micah Owings did what Brazoban couldn't by getting out of the bases-loaded jam immediately by inducing a double-play grounder by Prince Fielder and then a meek grounder off the bat off Rickie Weeks. So Brazoban doesn't get charged a single run and his ERA doesn't rise.

Kyle Lohse, Cardinals
: Lohse's regression to the mean in in full force, his ERA rising to 3.45 after ending May 23 with a 2.06 ERA and June 28 with a 2.78 mark. In the three starts since, he's coughed up 15 earned runs in 17 2/3 innings. This debacle came against the Mets, allowing four runs in 5 2/3 innings, walking one and striking out just one.

Jordan Zimmermann, Nationals: It was an off day for Zimmermann, who was bombed for six runs over five innings, despite whiffing five and walking none. The seven hits did Zimmermann in, three of which went for extra bases. That brings his ERA all the way up to 3.00, so he's still having quite a season. The five innings pitched give him 120 for the year. The Nationals plan on shutting him down at 160 innings pitched regardless of when that happens. That gives Zimmerman 40 innings left, so he may not even last to September.

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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