Tag:Derek Holland
Posted on: May 14, 2011 10:30 am
 

On Deck: Beckett, Sabathia poised for showdown

Beckett

By Evan Brunell


BEST MATCHUP: For the second straight day, Red Sox-Yankees highlight the proceedings. It's not East Coast bias, honest. It's the fact that Josh Beckett and CC Sabathia are going up against each other, and it's real hard to ignore their numbers on the season. This is shaping up to be a fantastic pitcher's duel as Beckett has roared back from a forgettable 2010 season to post a 1.99 ERA so far. Yep, his ERA is under 2.00, which places him third in the AL. He'll be opposed by Sabathia, who has been excellent as well with a 2.89 ERA for the Bombers. While the Red Sox can't reach .500 with the victory, they can strike panic in the heart of the Bronx by pulling to one win behind the club even if they'll remain two games back. That's because the Red Sox have played two more games on the year. Red Sox at Yankees, 7:10 p.m. ET

CUETO'S BACK
: Another game repeat from Friday's On Deck, but this one is a game the Cardinals have been wanting for a while. There's no love lost for Cueto in the Cardinals clubhouse. It's Cueto's first time on the mound since ending backup catcher Jason LaRue's career after a series of kicks to the head (yes, this really happened) during a brawl last August where Cueto felt himself cornered and lashed out -- it's also just Cueto's second start of the year after beginning the year on the DL and shining in his debut. "I don't think our guys have anything more than going out there trying to beat him," Cardinals acting manager Joe Pettini told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "What happened last year, I think, still leaves a mark. I think they remember and think about it." A motivated StL team will send Kyle McClellan to the hill, who is undefeated in his conversion to the rotation with a 5-0, 3.30 mark. He'll find it tough to keep other thoughts from creeping into his mind; he's bailing to St. Louis right after the game as his wife is expected to give birth to his first child, a daughter, on Sunday. St. Louis at Cincinnati, 4:10 p.m. ET

DIVISION AT STAKE
: The Angels have lost two straight; the Rangers have won two in a row including taking out the Angels on Friday night 4-1. Texas can leapfrog Los Angeles into first place with a victory but will have a hard road. The pitching matchup says it all, with Derek Holland (3-1, 5.18 ERA) going up against Dan Haren (4-2, 1.87 ERA). Haren boasts the best K/BB ratio in the majors, non-Phillies division, which is how we'll have to describe most accomplishments for the next few years. Anyways, he's got an even 7.00 rate with 56 whiffs and eight walks in 57 2/3 innings. Yeah, good luck, Texas. Angels at Rangers, 4:10 p.m. ET

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

Posted on: April 26, 2011 2:30 pm
Edited on: April 26, 2011 4:35 pm
 

Webb's (lack of) velocity a serious issue

By Matt Snyder

In this morning's Pepper , I passed along that Rangers' starting pitcher Brandon Webb threw two perfect innings in extended spring training. At the time, that was all the information that was at my disposal. After reading the report filed by Jason Grey of ESPN.com, there's definite reason to believe Webb isn't anywhere near being ready to return.

The reason is that his fastball is dangerously slow. Meaning, it's a high-school level velocity. He threw 12 fastballs, and Grey had Webb clocked at 84 one time. That was his fastest pitch. Everything else sat between 78-82 mph. Yes, he was throwing a fastball only 78 miles per hour.

For what it's worth, Webb still feels like he's going to get close to where he was before all his arm issues.

"[Pitching coordinator Keith Comstock] feels like there's more clicks in there, and I do too. I feel like there's definitely some more in there. I'm not too far off. 84 is a little low. When I was good I was probably 86-89, topping at 90 or so. If I can get back to 86-88 I think I'll be all right," Webb told Grey. (ESPN Insider )

Webb also told Grey he was "letting it go" and not holding back on his fastballs. So that's definitely a problem.

In terms of getting back to the bigs, the team Webb plays for is as much a problem as his velocity. The Rangers have gotten solid starting pitching, with a 3.56 ERA that ranks them third in starting ERA in the AL. With Colby Lewis and C.J. Wilson firmly entrenched in the rotation, Alexi Ogando and Matt Harrison going lights out, Derek Holland having a decent start and the impending returns of Tommy Hunter and Scott Feldman, there isn't exactly a pressing need for starting pitching. And with the Rangers figuring to be in the thick of the AL West race all season, there's no reason to rush anyone -- and the club certainly won't be throwing anyone out there who can't break 85 with a fastball.

At this point, I'd be shocked to see Webb on the Rangers before August and wouldn't even be surprised if he fails to make it the entire season. It's sad how quickly an arm injury has derailed his once-stellar career, but it appears to be the sobering reality -- no matter how optimistic Webb continues to remain.

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

Posted on: April 26, 2011 9:54 am
Edited on: April 26, 2011 4:36 pm
 

Pepper: Contentious homecoming



By Matt Snyder


Lance Berkman played in parts of 12 seasons for the Houston Astros. When he joined, he was the new member of the "Killer B's," along with Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio. He was a five-time All-Star and finished in the top five of MVP voting four times. The Astros' career leaderboard is peppered with Berkman's name. He's first in OBP, second in slugging, fourth in batting average and second in OPS. Only Biggio, Bagwell and Jose Cruz played more games for the club. He ranks third in runs, fifth in hits, third in doubles, second in home runs and third in RBI.

Or, put more succinctly: Lance Berkman is one of the greatest Houston Astros of all time.

But things aren't exactly peachy now. Berkman was having the worst season of his career in 2010 -- still a 122 OPS-plus, by the way -- before being dealt to the Yankees. Now, Berkman is playing for Houston rival St. Louis.

As a Cardinal, he's back to his old mashing ways. He's Big Puma again, hitting .377 with a 1.173 OPS, six home runs, 15 RBI and 19 runs through 19 games. He leads the NL with a .725 slugging percentage.

The big start drew the ire of a Houston-area sportscaster, who suggested Berkman didn't work hard his "last few years" for the Astros and now he was back in shape. (Eye on Baseball )

Tuesday night, the Cardinals visit the Astros at Minute Maid Park for the start of a three-game series. Needless to say, Berkman isn't exactly looking forward to it.

"I'm not crazy about going back in there. I felt like I've kind of turned the page and part of me just wants to be done with it. But I know I'm going to have to go back in there and face a lot of questions."

"I guess it's inevitable. When I signed here, I knew we were going to go in there three times, so I'm ready to go and to get all the hoopla, if there is going to be any, out of the way." (stltoday.com )

For whatever it's worth, Berkman did note he's in better shape, though he pointed out it was because his knees are finally healthy again.

It's certainly going to be interesting to see what kind of reception he receives and how he plays.

BASEBALL TODAY: Will Andre Ethier extend his hitting streak tonight? Will Roy Oswalt and Aaron Harang remain unbeaten? C. Trent Rosecrans joins Lauren Shehadi to answer those questions and more.

FEAST OR FAMINE GUYS: When you think of guys who either hit home runs or strikeout -- the Rob Deer All-Stars, if you will -- the names Mark Reynolds and Adam Dunn are among those who come to mind. Carlos Pena, too, though he has been only famine thus far in 2011. Who are the ultimate feast or famine guys in the young season this time around? Beyond the Box Score took a look at the guys who are striking out or collecting extra base hits at the highest percentage. At the top? Jorge Posada, Kevin Youkilis and then ... Reynolds.

Rangers ROTATION UPDATE: The Texas Rangers have gotten pretty good starting pitching this season, other than from Colby Lewis -- who certainly isn't going to be removed from the rotation. Thus, they're pretty close to having an embarrassment of riches. Brandon Webb threw two hitless innings at an extended spring training game Monday. Scott Feldman is slated to throw three innings in extended spring training Thursday, while Tommy Hunter is going to throw in an extended spring game Saturday. Collectively, the Rangers' starters have a 3.56 ERA, 1.19 WHIP and 103 strikeouts to 43 walks. The one expected to lose his rotation spot when someone comes back from injury is Alexi Ogando -- the guy who is 3-0 with a 2.13 ERA and astounding 0.79 WHIP. So are the Rangers going to remove him? Or Matt Harrison (3-1, 1.88, 0.94)? Or Derek Holland, C.J. Wilson or Lewis? It's quite a log-jam, once Webb, Hunter and Feldman return, particularly if Harrison and Ogando continue to throw the ball well. (Star-Telegram )

VOTE OF CONFIDENCE FOR OZZIE: On the heels of a 1-10 stretch, the White Sox got a close win Monday night in Yankee Stadium. It had to partially lift a big weight off their collective chests. Still, Guillen had recently put a target squarely on his own back, by saying if anyone should get canned, it should be himself. It was a noble move by Guillen, playing shield for his hitting and pitching coaches. Regardless, general manager Kenny Williams has now said it wasn't necessary. "The coaching staff is not throwing the baseball and not hitting the baseball," Williams said. "They’re doing what they’ve always done." (Chicago Sun-Times )

Mariners FUTILITY: The always-solid Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times discusses how bad the Mariners' offense is, and why it's going to get even worse. In fact, he argues there's a legitimate shot they'll score even fewer than last season's record-low 513 runs.

JAPANESE CONNECTION: Hideki Matsui and Ichiro Suzuki go back a long way. In fact, they first met in high school when Matsui committed a breach in bathing etiquette -- and Ichiro questioned him about it a decade later. Yes, seriously. There's a lot more in there about the relationship between the two, and it's definitely worth a read. (ESPN's West Coast Bias )

LA RUSSA IN OAKLAND: No, not Tony. His daughter, Bianca, has made the Raiders' cheerleading squad for the upcoming NFL season. (Shutdown Corner )

MANNY IN HIGH SCHOOL: Manny Ramirez hit .650 with 14 home runs in 22 games his senior year in high school. Oh, and check out this description of him in high school: "He was the shy, happy-go-lucky boy with the perfect swing who everyone knew was going to the major leagues. The boy who loved to hit more than anything else. The boy who worked harder than anyone else. The baby-faced boy who never drank anything stronger than the nonalcoholic Puerto Rican eggnog from the corner bodega he chugged to bulk up." The writer begs the question, which is the real Manny? An interesting quandry. (New York Times )

HEAT MAPS: NESN is using heat maps for Red Sox's broadcasts. I like the general idea, but there are a million possible variations. What would be best? Personally I'd want OPS by pitch location. (Baseball Analytics )

ATTENDANCE WOES: We're going to hear about this all season if things don't significantly pick up during the summer when the weather gets better. Yahoo! columnist Jeff Passan writes about how bad it looks for several teams and the league as a whole. A lot of numbers look really bad, but it's important to note the drop across the entire league through April 24 was only 1.77 percent. You could easily use the economy and some pretty awful weather to account for that. I'll stick with that for now. Let's revisit the topic in late July. Now, if you're down more than 20 percent (like the Rays and Mariners are), that's a problem. A big one.

A VISITOR'S TOUR OF WRIGLEY: page/COL">Rockies%3A+Blog%29" target="_blank">Troy Renck of the Denver Post took video to give fans a tour of the visitor's dugout at the historic Wrigley Field. Obviously I'd much rather experience things of this nature in person, but for now this'll do.

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

Posted on: March 29, 2011 5:20 pm
Edited on: March 29, 2011 9:58 pm
 

Five players to improve, five to decline for 2011

By Matt Snyder

Well, it's almost opening day, which means it's time for all us writers to put ourselves out there and make some predictions. In the end, every season is unpredictable and we're bound to be wrong on several of these. That doesn't make it any less fun. It's supposed to be fun, remember?

In this entry, we'll take a look at five players sure to improve upon what we saw in 2011 and five that are going to regress.

Five players who will improve upon 2010

A.J. Burnett, Yankees. He was pretty brutal last season, but it's a new one. Opening day is time for rebirth and we have to turn the page. His xFIP and strand rates from last season both show us he wasn't nearly as bad as his 5.26 ERA showed. His stuff wasn't sharp at all, either, as his lowest K-rate since 2001 illustrates. There are many instances where spring stats don't mean anything (like CC Sabathia, to name a different Yankees hurler), but for someone needing to turn the page like Burnett, it's important to throw well. He did this spring, putting together a 2.77 ERA in 13 innings. More importantly he struck out 11 and walked zero.

Derek Holland, Rangers. The youngster hasn't fared well in the majors thus far, but he's still only 24. He has lock-down dominated the minor leagues since being drafted in 2006. Last season in Triple-A he was 6-2 with a 1.87 ERA. He's 23-9 with a 2.47 ERA in his minor-league career with an outstanding 3.68 strikeouts for every walk. It's time to start showing this potential at the MLB level, and I believe 2011 will be the first step toward doing so.

Matt Kemp, Dodgers. He's refocused after a step backward in 2010. Which is weird to say, considering he had a 107 OPS+ and 28 bombs as a 25 year old -- but it really was a step back from his 2009 season, in which he won both a Silver Slugger and a Gold Glove. He's having a solid spring and seems to be happier under Don Mattingly. Expect to see improvements in nearly every category -- except games played, since he appeared in all 162 last year.

James Shields, Rays. The traditional stat categories looked awful for Shields in 2010 -- 13-15, 5.18 -- but he really wasn't that bad. His strikeout rate was the highest of his career, balls in play were hits far too often (.341, as compared to a .308 career mark) and his xFIP was 3.72. If you don't like all the sabermetrics stuff, that's OK, but all of it says he's going to have a huge regression to the mean this year. In layman's terms, expect more 2008 (14-8, 3.56) than 2010.

Justin Upton, Diamondbacks. He appeared headed for superstardom in 2009, but took a step back in 2010. Still, like Kemp, he's awfully young (23) and his OPS+ was still good (111). This season, expect Upton's walk rate to continue to rise, as such he'll run more. Also, his power took a significant dip last season and he wasn't fully healthy. He is now, so look for a big step forward in '11.

Five players who will decline from 2010

Jose Bautista, Blue Jays. I once worked with a guy who liked to say, "just because it's obvious doesn't mean it's not true." Just to clear the air, I don't think Bautista cheated nor do I think last season was anything other than a continuation of his last month in 2009, which resulted from a new swing. I do not, however, think he's ever going to hit more than 40 homers in a season again. He hit 54 last year. Even if he comes through with another big season, he's going to see a huge regression. Think about it, if he hits 35 bombs, that's a whopping 35 percent less than last year.

Mat Latos, Padres. His shoulder issue right now is concerning, as are the giant leaps in workload the past two seasons. Plus, he began to falter down the stretch last year anyway -- going 0-5 with a 8.18 ERA and 2.00 WHIP in his last five starts. And his team is now worse. Basically, I hope you let someone else draft him in Fantasy.

Josh Hamilton, Rangers. Led the majors in batting average, slugging percentage and OPS. Won the MVP. Are those things going to happen again? Technically speaking, it's pretty easy to say he's going to regress even if he has a solid season. If you wanna dig deeper, OK, his BABIP was a stupid .390, his isolated power flew off the charts and his ability to stay on the field must be questioned -- he couldn't even do that last season.

Buster Posey, Giants. His numbers were pretty insane last year in a short time. He struck out at a much lower rate than he ever did in the minors and didn't lose any of his power. There's a reason the "sophomore slump" term has hung around for a while, and it's not because guys automatically just play worse in their second year. It's because advance scouts, pitchers and pitching coaches have a large sample of at-bats to study and can start to find small holes in a swing. Some guys are immune. If Posey is, I'll be wrong in this pick -- and I'm fine with that. He's a very likeable guy.

Jayson Werth, Nationals. I do like that Ryan Zimmerman is his protection, but he's still going to a worse team in a worse lineup in a less homer-friendly ballpark. And now instead of playing behind Halladay/Lee/Oswalt/Hamels/Blanton he has to face them. Then, instead of facing the Nationals' pitching staff 19 times a season he's playing behind them. And he just got a huge, almost inexplicable, contract. It's hard to see him getting better.

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


Posted on: March 24, 2011 2:44 pm
Edited on: March 24, 2011 5:29 pm
 

Feliz to close, Rangers round out rotation

By Matt Snyder

One of the spring's more talked-about storylines has reportedly come to a conclusion. The 2010 Rookie of the Year Neftali Feliz will remain the team's closer, while Matt Harrison, Derek Holland and Tommy Hunter will fill the final three rotation spots behind C.J. Wilson and Colby Lewis. (MLB.com via Twitter )

With Feliz out of the picture, the three choices aren't very surprising. The only other pitcher who could legitimately claim to have better stuff would be Michael Kirkman, but he could benefit from some more time in the minors before getting the call. It's a nice luxury for the Rangers to have so many viable options.

The majority of the discussion when it came to the last couple slots was whether Feliz should remain the closer or become a starting pitcher. Many project him as having the ability of a front-line ace. If that's going to happen, why not now? Those supporting a move to the rotation would tell you it's much more valuable for a team to get 150-200 innings out of its best pitcher than 70-80. On the flip-side, the Rangers don't have any other viable options at closer, but did have plenty of capable starting pitchers -- though not as good as Feliz.

Ultimately, Ron Washington and his staff must have felt it was best to leave the lock-down guy at the end of the line and see what they can get out of the young arms.

Hunter is only 24 and went 13-4 with a 3.73 ERA and 1.24 WHIP last season. Holland is also only 24. He hasn't had success at the major-league level yet, but dominated the minors. Harrison would seem the biggest question mark of the three, but has had a good spring.

UPDATE: Right on cue, Hunter went down with a strained groin . So the Rangers still don't have a set rotation.

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

Posted on: March 18, 2011 2:58 pm
 

Rangers' rotation shuffle shaking out

By Matt Snyder

According to pitching coach Mike Maddux, the Rangers have settled on the pitchers to fill the third and fourth spots in their starting rotation, behind C.J. Wilson and Colby Lewis.

Though it was not official, Maddux told a radio show that Tommy Hunter and Matt Harrison were close to being given the nod and that "the other spot is going to come down to the last couple weeks." (ESPN Dallas )

That last spot has a whole six guys still in the mix. Obviously, if management wants Neftali Feliz in the rotation, that's his spot. If not, the Rangers are deciding between Derek Holland, Michael Kirkman, Dave Bush, Brett Tomko and Alexi Ogando.

The smart money there is on Holland, though Kirkman is an up-and-coming prospect and Bush has the wily veteran factor. It just depends on which direction the Rangers want to go. That spot is probably a temp gig anyway, with Brandon Webb making progress and a sure bet to join the fray at some point during the first half of the season.

Hunter, 24, has an 8.31 ERA this spring, but has struck out 10 guys and only walked one. He was 13-4 last season with a 3.73 ERA in 128 innings.

Harrison, 25, has only allowed five hits and one earned run in nine spring innings (1.00 ERA). He had a 4.71 ERA in 37 appearances last season -- only six of which were starts. He was 1-1 with a 5.29 ERA as a starter.

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

 

More MLB coverage
Posted on: March 16, 2011 11:02 am
Edited on: March 16, 2011 12:34 pm
 

Pepper: Sign spring's end is near



By Matt Snyder


How can you best tell when spring is winding down and the real Major League Baseball season is nearing? Well, a few things. The snow finally stops falling. I guess, though this year who really knows. It's liable to snow at some places into May at this rate. Another good sign is watching the NCAA basketball tournament on CBS (shameless plug alert). How about baseball teams starting to name -- or get close to naming -- a fifth starting pitcher? That's a pretty good one, and it's happening in a lot of different places right now.

We've already passed along that Mark Rogers has been demoted, which leaves Wily Peralta the Brewers' likely five . We've also noted Michael Pineda being in Seattle's driver's seat as well. But there are plenty more.

Esmil Rogers looks like he's opening up a lead over John Maine and Greg Reynolds for the Rockies, after working five innings Tuesday and only facing the minimum 15 batters. (Denver Post )

Brandon McCarthy has gotten in the good graces of manager Bob Geren for being "impressive" and "consistent" in looking to win the A's fifth starting job behind a pretty underrated top four of Trevor Cahill, Brett Anderson, Dallas Braden and Gio Gonzalez. (San Francisco Chronicle )

Ever since Adam Wainwright went down with injury and the Cardinals said they were going to look internally, Kyle McClellan has been the front-runner to take the remaining spot. And every outing since then, he's gotten rave reviews and been tabbed as the front-runner. Thus, it would be pretty shocking if he didn't get the job. Still, the word from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch is that McClellan is merely "closer" to getting the nod.

Speaking of shocking, it would be just as shocking if Randy Wells doesn't win one of the Cubs' two remaining rotation slots. He's throwing well this spring and has the past experience. It also appears that former first-round pick Andrew Cashner is putting some distance between himself and the rest of the field as well. We'll get back to Cashner in a second. (MLB.com )

Of course, there is one team a bit behind the curve here. The Texas Rangers, your defending American League champs, still have a whopping seven guys in the mix for two spots. If a decision is made to start Neftali Feliz, one that seems increasingly likely with each passing day, that narrows the field to six guys for one spot. Those six: Derek Holland, Matt Harrison, Michael Kirkman, Alexi Ogando, Dave Bush and Eric Hurley. (Fort Worth Star-Telegram )

THE PROFESSOR: Of the two nicknames you see listed for Greg Maddux on baseball-reference.com, I always preferred "the Professor," even though it's nowhere near mainstream. He was so much more cerebral than his opposition, seemingly getting guys out just with his mind. Thus, it's only fitting he's passing along some knowledge to Cashner in Cubs camp as a special assistant. His latest nugget? "Walks are overrated." It's not surprising, coming from a guy who probably never walked someone by accident in his prime. Those who remember watching him in the mid-90s are nodding in agreement. You could feel when Maddux was walking someone on purpose; otherwise it didn't happen. Oh, and if Maddux's wisdom isn't enough, Kerry Wood has also taken Cashner under his wing. (Chicago Tribune )

RUSSELL THE MUSCLE: Hey, someone has to fill the void left by Mark Reynolds -- both in terms of power and strikeouts. Despite his lackluster defense -- which is reportedly a concern for manager Kirk Gibson -- Russell Branyan is turning heads by killing the ball this spring, to the tune of a 1.274 OPS. And don't scoff. While Branyan has a bad batting average and strikeout issues, his career OPS-plus is 115 and he averages 31 home runs over the course of 162 games. He need only hold off Juan Miranda and once-big prospect Brandon Allen. (MLB.com )

NO WORRIES: Clayton Kershaw was torched Tuesday by the Rangers, but Dodgers manager Don Mattingly isn't worried about his likely ace. Nor should he be, considering it's only the spring and Kershaw entered the game with a 0.00 ERA through 11 1/3 innings. (Los Angeles Times )

SWITCHBACK: Prior to the ALDS last year, the rules for the dreaded catwalk at Tropicana Field were altered, but now those rules are reverting back to where they were in the regular season of 2010. Check out the complete list on St. Petersburg Times .

GETTING GRADY BACK: Sunday could be the day. Grady Sizemore hasn't seen game action in about 10 months, but reportedly he has a real shot to play Sunday. Obviously huge news for the Tribe. (Cleveland.com )

KEEPING DICE-K: There's been a lot of talk about the Red Sox trading Daisuke Matsuzaka of late. Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe makes a good case to fans that Dice-K is actually a pretty average major-league pitcher and that, as the fifth starter, that's really all the team needs. Put the absurd salary aside and just enjoy the good Red Sox team, he pleads. I tend to agree. (Boston Globe )

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

 

More MLB coverage


Posted on: March 12, 2011 9:40 pm
 

Getting to know the Rangers

By Evan Brunell

MVP

HollandThe offense isn't the concern in Texas -- what is a concern is the pitching sans Cliff Lee. There was a reason Texas was so desperate to trade for Lee: there isn't anyone terribly exciting left in the rotation. There are some quality pitchers and back-of-the-rotation filler, but no legitimate ace.

Derek Holland could be that person. He put on a show in his last spring training start and could be ready to deliver on the potential he displayed before cutting his teeth the last two years in the bigs. Holland's season is especially important in light of No. 1 starter C.J. Wilson's impending free agency. Never mind Neftali Feliz -- Holland's emergence will go a long way toward dictating the Rangers' short- and long-term future.

PLAYER ORACLE -- Gene Woodling to Josh Hamilton

 

 

  • Gene Woodling played with Brooks Robinson for the 1955 Baltimore Orioles
  • Brooks Robinson played with Eddie Murray for the 1977 Baltimore Orioles  
  • Eddie Murray played with Omar Vizquel for the 1995 Cleveland Indians
  • Omar Vizquel played with Josh Hamilton for the 2009 Texas Rangers

 

 

POP CULTURE

In 1987, the Rangers employed a relief pitcher named Steve Howe. Howe wasone of the game's top relievers from 1980 until his final season of 1996, but that's not his claim to fame. Neither is his Rookie of the Year Award after posting a 2.66 ERA in 84 2/3 innings for the Dodgers, saving 17 games.

No, what is Howe's claim to fame is his battle with alcohol and cocaine abuse. In his 17-year career, he was suspended seven times and missed the entire seasons of 1984, 1986, 1988, 1989 and 1990. He was the second person ahead of Ferguson Jenkins to be banned for life due to substance abuse in 1992 before successfully appealing the decision. Howe's final excellent season would come in '94, but he hung on all the way to '96 to get a World Series ring.

His tenure in Texas is marked by picking up his contract in July 1987 and agreeing to a two-year, $1.2 million contract after the season. That contract would be short-lived as the Rangers released Howe for using alcohol. It would be four years before he appeared in the majors again.

After retirement, he wrote a book about his struggles and became an evangelistic Christian. Sadly, Howe passed away in 2006 when his pickup truck rolled over in California. His toxicology report revealed methamphetamine.

Where's the pop culture come in in all of this?

In the 1994 movie Naked Gun 33 1/3, the late, great Leslie Nielsen tells Anna Nicole Smith "This is your last chance. And I'm not talking about one of those Major League Baseball Steve Howe kind of last chances."

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

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