Tag:Ichiro Suzuki
Posted on: March 4, 2011 1:15 pm
Edited on: March 4, 2011 2:10 pm

Ear on Baseball podcast, Episode 5

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Baseball ProjectEar on Baseball -- the podcast from the Eye on Baseball team -- is back with Episode 5 for your weekend enjoyment.

In this episode, I talk with Scott McCaughey and Steve Wynn of the Baseball Project, a rock band doing all baseball songs.

Wynn (Dream Syndicate, Steve Wynn and the Miracle 3) and McCaughey (Young Fresh Fellows, Minus 5, R.E.M.), started drinking and talking about baseball songs when they got together for R.E.M.'s induction into the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame. Pretty soon, along with Peter Buck (R.E.M.) and Wynn's wife Linda Pitmon (Steve Wynn and the Miracle 3) formed the Baseball Project.

The group put out Vol. 1: Frozen Ropes and Dying Quails in 2008 and have just come out with Vol. 2: High and Inside, both available on Yep Roc Records.

Later this month, they'll tour spring training stadiums in the Cactus League.

They also provide the music for this week's podcast (thanks to Yep Roc Records) with snippets from "The Straw That Stirs the Drink" and "Ichiro Goes to the Moon" and the full versions of "Chin Music" and "Please Don't Call Them Twinkies" featuring Craig Finn of the Hold Steady.

Check us out, and if you want to have new episodes delivered automatically, subscribe to Ear on Baseball through iTunes , Zune or XML.

Ear on Baseball, Volume 4 (51 minutes, 30 seconds)

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More MLB coverage
Posted on: February 25, 2011 4:45 pm
Edited on: February 25, 2011 5:07 pm

Imagining an MLB Combine

Michael Bourn

While our Eye on Football brethren are in Indianapolis for the NFL Combine not getting to watch guys run and jump, it got me to thinking how much fun an MLB Combine might be.

Among the drills the NFL draft hopefuls do that would be applicable to baseball are the 40-yard dash, bench press, vertical leap and the Wonderlic Test. So who would be the best baseball players to participate? That's where the fun begins.

40-yard dash: Maybe for baseball, it'd be more fun to line the guys up and have them go 90 feet.

Favorite: Michael Bourn, Astros. A Sports Illustrated poll of players during spring training had Crawford picked as the fastest player in the majors, but the less-heralded Bourn finished second. Bourn has won two straight Gold Gloves in center, and much of it is because he can seemingly cover the entire outfield. In a division blessed with fast center fielders (Pittsburgh's Andrew McCutchen and Cincinnati's Drew Stubbs), Bourn covers more ground than anyone. Oh, and he's led the National League in stolen bases each of the last two seasons.

Others: Brett Gardner, Austin Jackson, Luis Durango, Juan Pierre, Jose Reyes, Andrew McCutchen, Chone Figgins, Ichiro Suzuki, Emilio Bonifacio, Carlos Gomez, Carl Crawford

Adam DunnBench press: At the combine, players bench press 225 pounds as many times as possible, testing not only strength, but endurance. For baseball, maybe the best test would be a home-run derby-like format, but adding the distances of balls hit.

Favorite: Adam Dunn, White Sox. According to HitTrackerOnline.com, Jose Bautista had more "no-doubt" home runs than Dunn (19 to 16), but Dunn's homers averaged nearly 10 feet more, with an average "true distance" of 411.1 feet. Mark Reynolds' 32 homers averaged 415.6 feet, so he's certainly in the discussion. Dunn's been consistently hitting long home runs, so he gets the nod.

Others: Josh Hamilton, Albert Pujols, Mark Reynolds, Wily Mo Pena, Mike Stanton, Travis Hafner, Russell Branyan, Jose Bautista

Dexter FowlerVertical leap: While it's not something that you associate with baseball, it's a good test of athleticism, but is also practical at the wall as players just to rob home runs.

Favorite: Dexter Fowler, Rockies. At 6-foot-5, Fowler was recruited as a basketball player in high school, but he showed his leaping ability in an unusual place in the 2009 NLDS. In the eighth inning of Game 4, Fowler was on first when Todd Helton hit a grounder to Chase Utley. Fowler was running toward Utley and hurdled him. Utley then threw errantly to Jimmy Rollins and Fowler was safe. (You can see the play here.)

Others: Carl Crawford, Torii Hunter, Shane Victorino, Mike Cameron, Hunter Pence

Craig BreslowWonderlic test: A 12-minute, 50-question test used for testing applicants for learning and problem-solving. Harvard's Pat McInally is the only confirmed 50 score at the combine, while another Harvard alum, Ryan Fitzpatrick, scored either a 48 or 49 in nine minutes. So, it makes sense to look to the Ivy League for our baseball picks.

Favorite: Craig Breslow, Athletics. Breslow graduated from Yale with a degree in molecular biophysics and biochemistry. Seriously. The Sporting News called him the smartest player in sports, while the Wall Street Journal suggested he may be the smartest man in the world. Not only that, batters hit just .194/.272/.348 against him last season, with lefties hitting .181/.245/.340 against him.

Others: Ross Ohlendorf, Chris Young, Fernando Perez, Mark DeRosa

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed. 
Posted on: February 22, 2011 11:43 am
Edited on: February 22, 2011 11:46 am

Pepper: Can Hanley take on leadership role?


MIAMI NEEDS A HERO WITH A FACE: The new-look Marlins are preparing for their final season known as the Florida Marlins. Their team colors and logo are expected to change upon relocation to the new stadium as well as becoming known as the Miami Marlins. The face of the Marlins in this move is Hanley Ramirez, one of the best shortstops in the game (if not the best).

But now that Dan Uggla, Cody Ross and Jorge Cantu are no longer part of the game, Ramirez will be asked to step up and provide leadership in the clubhouse which is littered with young players. Ramirez is no old fogey himself at age 27, but amid questions about his maturity in the past, can HanRam step up to the plate?

"I'm very confident that he's going to be capable of doing that," manager Edwin Rodriguez stated. "We all know what he can do on the field. I think that he's maturing. Let's put it this way: As a player, he's only 27, and we've been very patient with him. He's ready to take this team to the next level."

Ramirez, for his part, is saying all the right things. He has said he has no problems with ex-manager Fredi Gonzalez who benched him in a well-publicized spat for lack of hustle. He believes that Mike Stanton, expected to hit cleanup behind Ramirez, needs to show everyone what he's capable of. And most of all, Ramirez wants to play in the postseason, something he has yet to experience.

"I like the challenge that I've got to take the team to the playoffs," Ramirez noted. "That's my challenge this year. That's my goal. I'm going to put them on my back and go all the way until the end, hard every day."

These platitudes are all well and good, and while the hope certainly is that Ramirez takes the next step forward, actions speak louder than words. Let's see what happens before anointing Ramirez a leader. (MLB.com)

FEED ME POPCORN ANYTIME: By now, everyone has seen and heard of Alex Rodriguez being fed popcorn by Cameron Diaz on live TV at the Super Bowl. A-Rod was reportedly furious, demanding he not be shown for the remainder of the game, but on Tuesday, made some jokes about it. "No popcorn endorsements yet, but our lines are open. Who would be upset about getting fed popcorn?" (page/TB">Rays)">Tampa Tribune)

DUDE, WHERE'S MY TRUCK?: Everett Teaford has a shot to win a job with the Royals as a 26-year-old. He languished in the minors before developing a cut-fastball that suddenly vaulted him into legitimate-prospect status. Except now he'll have to try to win a job without a truck after it was stolen Sunday night while Teaford was at dinner. 

More importantly is how pitching coach Bob McClure views Teaford. "Teaford looks like Jamie Moyer did when Moyer threw a little harder, and Teaf might throw harder than Moyer ever threw."

Sounds like quite a ringing endorsement. (Kansas City Star)

AGE IS NOT LIKE A FINE WINE, AT LEAST IN BASEBALL: Joe Posnanski comes your way with sprawling thoughts on how aging athletes always believe they can turn back the clock. All it takes is a tweak here and there and don't worry, they'll be right as rain.

Except they're often not. Citing Derek Jeter as a prime example with his work on changing his swing, Poz believes at some point, age is the determining factor in a player's decline. And history supports him. (SI.com)

JETER LAUGHS OFF STEINBRENNER COMMENTS: "I'm not upset," Derek Jeter says of Hank Steinbrenner's thinly veiled shot at Jeter amid comments the Yankees were not "hungry" enough in 2010. "It doesn't bother me," he adds, laughing it off. Probably the right move, but still dumb on Steinbrenner's part. (New Jersey Star-Ledger)

WHO NEEDS PERFECT EYESIGHT?: Corey Hart had a season to remember in 2010, cranking 31 home runs in 614 plate appearances and earning a three-year contract extension. But he started the year on the verge of being released, became a bench player, fought his way into part-time play then finally, back to becoming a full-time starter with a $26.5 million contract in tow. 

The right-fielder did all this despite being slightly near-sighted which some felt may have been responsible for his poor 2009 season. In spring training last year, Hart tried several solutions to alleviate the problem but had a brutal spring -- which could have led to his release -- and ditched his contacts before the start of the year. He may not have Ted Williams' 20/10 eyesight, but he's doing just fine. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

ROLLER-COASTER RIDE: Charlie Zink has bounced around the last several years after finally achieving his dream of pitching in the major leagues. Back in 2008, Zink made his Red Sox debut at age 28. The knuckleballer pitched 4 1/3 innings of relief in a 19-17 beatdown over the Rangers (that game was positively exhausting to attend in person) but gave up eight runs in the process.

 Since then, Zink has battled injuries while traversing between the Cardinals and Twins for 2010 -- but had surgery to remove a bone chip in May. This bone chip had been lingering since 2008, causing Zink to drop his arm slot and flattening his knuckeball out. Expected to return in August, Zink headed to Universal Studios while on rehab in Florida with his wife and promptly injured himself on one of the rides, feeling it on the new Harry Potter ride. So Zink can say he was injured while riding a roller-coaster. Nice.

Zink has signed a deal to pitch for Butch Hobson's Lancaster Barnstormers, an independent-ball league. Zink says his knuckleball is as good as it was in 2008 and is hoping to get back into MLB's system. (MLBlogs.com)

JUST AN ORDINARY MAN: Ichiro Suzuki conducted a wide-ranging interview in Japan, talking mostly baseball but touching on other aspects such as love. (When you propose, do it in midday as that is when most people are rational. Nighttime gives way to romantic darkness and "other persuasions.")

Ichiro was surprisingly honest, saying that he was hoping and praying to be walked in the 10th inning of the 2009 World Baseball Classic championship game. He had never had such thinking before in his life, but he got over it as soon as the catcher readied for the pitch. As is legend in Japan, Ichiro stroked a two-run single that would prove to be the game-winning hit.

"Despite the levels of success he's attained," interviewer Shigesato Itoi explained, "he has retained the sensibilities of ordinary people far more, actually, than I would have imagined. Through this experience with him, I came to appreciate how he's actually made an effort not to embrace the ordinariness that we all have. When you achieve success like he has, that's something you only retain if you make a conscious effort to retain it." (Seattle Times)

-- Evan Brunell

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Posted on: December 20, 2010 3:05 pm
Edited on: December 20, 2010 6:07 pm

Ichiro: 'I wonder why we still lose this many'

Ichiro Suzuki
It's like clockwork. During the regular season, Ichiro usually gives pretty flavorless interviews. Then over the winter, these tremedous, frank, thoughtful quotes show up in the Japanese newspapers. Whether something is lost in translation with the U.S. press or he's just more comfortable speaking when he's not in his intense game-day focus mode, it's always interesting to read after the fact what he was thinking.

Today a Q&A was published in English-language Japanese online outlet Japan Today. The answers given by the Mariners' 10-time All-Star outfielder don't paint a picture of a guy who's happy with the way things are going in Seattle.

Ichiro said he was struck by a core of Mariners from their first few playoff appearances (Randy Johnson, Edgar Martines, Jay Buhner, Ken Griffey Jr.) appearing together when Johnson threw out the first pitch of the season.

"It was good to see them all together but at the same time made me wonder if there is a real teammate for me. I hoped that Felix [Hernandez] or [Chone] Figgins would become one and that 2010 would be the start of a new Mariners era. But we stumbled from the outset."

Ichiro has been to the playoffs just once in 10 seasons, in his rookie campaign in 2001, and has endured two 100-loss seasons in the past three years.

"After all this time I wonder why we still lose this many games. ... The whole team had high hopes for the 2010 season because we thought we made good additions to the roster (such as Cliff Lee and Figgins). And we ended up like this. From now on, maybe we shouldn’t even voice our goals."

-- David Andriesen

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Posted on: December 6, 2010 4:44 pm

Japanese dream team in Seattle?

Hideki Matsui As if the Mariners weren't already Japan's favorite team, they may become even more popular -- the team is interested in adding Hideki Matsui, FOXSports.com's Jon Paul Morosi writes .

Ichiro Suzuki is the best Japanese player to play in the United States, but Matsui is still the most popular MLB player in Japan. The two together would really help the Mariners' ratings in Japan, and also at the gate in Seattle.

Morosi quotes "a person close to Ichiro" saying "[Ichiro] thinks [Matsui] would help as a DH threat."

Matsui hit .274/.361/.459 with 21 home runs in Anaheim last season and made $6 million.

It's unlikely the Mariners can afford that much money in a designated hitter.

Because of his past knee surgeries, Matsui is best-suited for the American League, and it's believed he would prefer to avoid artificial turf, which could rule out Tampa Bay and Toronto, two possible destinations. The A's have also been mentioned as a possibility.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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

Posted on: November 26, 2010 12:09 pm
Edited on: November 26, 2010 12:27 pm

Twins win Nishioka bidding

Tsuyoshi Nishioka
Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune is reporting that the Twins are the team whose posting bid was accepted by the Chiba Lotte Marines for Japanese batting champion Tsuyoshi Nishioka.

The switch-hitting infielder, who has won the Japanese equivalent of the Gold Glove at both shortstop and second base, batted .346.423/.482 with 206 hits in the recently concluded season. The Twins now have exclusive rights to negotiate a contract with Nishioka for the next 30 days. If they succeed, Nishioka comes to America (presumably freeing the Twins to deal J.J. Hardy) and the Marines get the posting fee, estimated in various reports at around $5 million. If the Twins fail to sign the infielder, he returns to Japan and the Twins pay nothing.

The Mariners, Red Sox, Giants and Dodgers were said to be in the bidding on Nishioka. If the reports of the posting fee are accurate, it seems like a pretty reasonable outlay for the Twins, especially considering the Athletics just paid a reported $19.3 million for the posting of pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma (negotiations on a contract there appear to have come to a standstill).

Tsuyoshi's accompiishments in Japan are impressive, but it's alway tricky trying to predict how success in Japan will translate to the U.S. Since the Mariners struck gold with Ichiro Suzuki in 2001, everyone has been trying to find the next Japanese gem, with mixed (at best) results. The closest comparison to Nishioka to have played here is Kazuo Matsui, who, interestingly, announced Thursday he is headed back to Japan after seven mostly forgetabble seasons with the Mets, Rockies and Astros.

-- David Andriesen

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Posted on: November 23, 2010 2:19 pm
Edited on: April 18, 2011 12:29 pm

Hamilton runs away with AL MVP

Josh Hamilton wins the American League MVP, and while it wasn't quite the landslide that Joey Votto's NL victory was, it wasn't close, either.

Hamilton collected 22 of the 28 first-place votes, had four second-place votes and two fourth-place votes for a total of 358 points. Detroit's Miguel Cabrera was second, finishing with five first-place votes and 262 overall points. Robinson Cano was third (229) and Toronto's Jose Bautista was fourth with one first-place vote and 165 total points.

Josh Hamilton Here's the final voting
Josh Hamilton, Rangers 358
Miguel Cabrera, Tigers 262
Robinson Cano, Yankees 229
Jose Bautista, Blue Jays 165
Paul Konerko, White Sox, 130
Evan Longoria, Rays 100
Carl Crawford, Rays 98
Joe Mauer, Twins 97
Adrian Beltre, Red Sox 83
Delmon Young, Twins 44
Vladimir Guerrero, Rangers 22
Rafael Soriano, Rays 21
CC Sabathia, Yankees 13
Shin-Soo Choo, Indians 9
Alex Rodriguez, Yankees 8
Felix Hernandez, Mariners 6
Ichiro Suzuki, Mariners 3
Jim Thome, Twins 2
Joakim Soria, Royals 1
Mark Teixeira, Yankees 1

An interesting note, both of the MVPs made their debut for the Reds in 2007, Hamilton on opening day and Votto after rosters expanded in September. The Reds traded Hamilton after the 2007 season to the Rangers for pitcher Edinson Volquez and Daniel Ray Herrera.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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

Posted on: November 9, 2010 4:06 pm
Edited on: April 18, 2011 12:28 pm

Jeter wins another Gold Glove

Oh, as we complain again and again about the Baseball Writers Association of America and their votes for MVP and Cy Young, the coaches and managers once again show they're not a better committee to choose the biggest awards in the game.

Exhibit A: Derek Jeter, Gold Glover.

Derek Jeter Yep, Jeter won the Gold Glove again on Tuesday in a vote from American League coaches and managers. Derek Jeter with a -5.4 UZR/150, -13 runs saved and -17 plus/minus, was determined by the coaches and managers to be the best defensive shortstop in the American League. Among qualified players, only Tampa Bay's Jason Bartlett (-13.8) and Kansas City's Yuniesky Betancourt (-9.2) had a worse UZR/150.

Sure, Jeter had just six errors, but the idea that errors tell you much about a player's defense is preposterous. It tells you who is able to make the routine plays best. That's well and good, but it has little to do with the best all-around defensive player. Jeter has the range of, well, a mediocre 36-year old defensive player. (You know how many times you see Jeter go into the hole and doing that leaping throw, but doesn't quite get the runner? Oh, what a gutty play, he doesn't get an E. Thing is, most other shortstops don't have to make that jump and get the runner.)

Who would be a better choice? Well, who wouldn't?

The Fielding Bible Awards had Chicago's Alexei Ramirez as its third-place finisher, and best among AL players. Ramirez's UZR/150 was 10.1, he had 16 runs saved and a 20 plus/minus.

In UZR/150, Ramirez was trailed by Oakland's Cliff Pennington (8.8), Baltimore's Cesar Izturis (5.8) and Texas' Elvis Andrus (0.3), among qualified players.

The Gold Gloves have been one of those openly mocked selections since a designated hitter won one in 1999 (Rafael Palmeiro). Defense, even in this day and age of advanced statistics, is still highly subjective, with reputation playing more of a role than production. That's what the Gold Glove tells us every year. It also tells us the coaches and managers have as much of a Yankee bias as the media is accused of having.

Alex Rodriguez was the only Yankee infielder not to be awarded, even though the advanced statistics liked Oakland's infield much more.

Mark Teixeira won at first base, even though Oakland's Daric Barton was likely the best choice. Mark Ellis had the top UZR/150 among second basemen (12.7), but the winner was Robinson Cano (-0.9).  Also deserving at second would be Minnesota's Orlando Hudson (12.0 UZR/150). Hudson was the top AL vote-getter in the Fielding Bible Awards, while Ellis was behind him.

As for the outfield, that's probably where a Yankee was actually left off. Left fielder Brett Gardner had the best UZR/150 of any qualified outfielders with a 27.9. He also won the Fielding Bible Award in left field.

American League Gold Glove winners
P Mark Buehrle, White Sox
C Joe Mauer, Twins
1B Mark Teixeira, Yankees
2B Robinson Cano, Yankees
3B Evan Longoria, Rays
SS Derek Jeter, Yankees
OF Carl Crawford, Rays
OF Franklin Gutierrez, Mariners
OF Ichiro Suzuki, Mariners

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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

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