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Tag:Hunter Pence
Posted on: July 5, 2011 2:01 pm
Edited on: July 6, 2011 10:36 am
 

Astros in limbo as trade deadline nears

Rodriguez
By Evan Brunell

The Houston Astros are in a bit of a sticky situation.

Incoming owner Jim Crane has yet to officially assume control of the club, and until he does, cannot and will not be publicly involved in the team's maneuvers, as Fox Sports reports. That approval is not likely to come until the next owner's meetings, which take place Aug. 17-18.

“The owner definitely will have a voice at the deadline regardless of whether they have transferred [ownership] officially,” a rival executive said. “No way he won’t have a voice. [Outgoing owner Drayton] McLane will make sure of that. He will want the guy who is buying the club to have a voice.”

That leaves Houston in limbo for the trade deadline, as Crane rightly deserves to influence the team's future. Despite the ability to make his opinions known privately, Crane will be working with one hand tied behind his back. In addition to being unable to wield complete power over the trading deadline, Crane has to work with a GM that he did not hire. While Crane is widely expected to fire Ed Wade eventually, that won't come until he can both assume control and evaluate Wade's work. Wade is in a sensitive situation, as he has to pull off the best possible deal he can for his incoming owner to save his job.

McLane has resisted for years the call to rebuild, hoping to recapture the glory of winning the 2005 NL pennant. The 'Stros have been in need of a rebuild for a few years, so they're already behind the eight-ball and boast no true superstar on the team, several solid players and a farm system ranked No. 26 by Baseball America. That's a tall task that no one trading deadline can fix, but Wade and Crane can begin the process.

The Astros' best player, Hunter Pence, isn't expected to go anywhere. While his current stature as an important part of Houston's future can always change, the fact remains that he is currently the face of the franchise and is under control for two more seasons. It would not make sense for the incoming owner to kick off his tenure in the eyes of fans by trading Pence; at least not yet.

That leaves Wandy Rodriguez as the next-best player available, although Michael Bourn, Brett Myers, Jeff Keppinger and anyone not named Pence and starting pitchers Bud Norris and Jordan Lyles will be considered. Rodriguez has quietly become one of the best left-handed starters in the league and boasts a long-term deal through 2013 with a club option that converts to a player option upon trade. With a total package of $34 million due Rodriguez from the start of 2011, it's an affordable deal for a big impact that many teams can take on.

How big of an impact can Rodriguez have, though?

A pretty big one. As Ken Rosenthal points out, Rodriguez's 2.44 ERA since June 23, 2010 is the second lowest in the majors behind Felix Hernandez's 2.36. Trailing Rodriguez are Jered Weaver and Roy Halladay at 2.45 apiece, with Cole Hamels rounding out the top five at 2.49. What team wouldn't like to have an affordable left-hander who ranks among the best in the game?

You can bet the Yankees are interested. GM Brian Cashman likes to talk game about how he doesn't need to upgrade his rotation. At first blush, you can't blame him. CC Sabathia, All-Star selection or not, is an ace. A.J. Burnett has a big-money deal and big upside. Phil Hughes could be the ace of the Yankees in a couple years, so he gets a spot. Bartolo Colon, thanks to a stem-cell rejuvenated shoulder, is pitching the best he has in years while Freddy Garcia somehow is on pace for a career-low ERA. Heck, they're deep to the point that Ivan Nova was just demoted to Triple-A despite a 4.12 ERA in 16 starts.

But let's look at that list again. Sabathia is fine. Burnett runs hot or cold and posted a 5.26 ERA last season. Hughes just got past a baffling case of decreased velocity, and it's anyone's guess if he can last long-term, while Colon and Garcia were scrap-heap pickups for a reason. Also, and there's a reason that the Yankees chased Cliff Lee so hard and really want a second left-hander. That's crucial in a division stacked with imposing left-handed hitters, especially in Boston.

If the Yankees see a deal for Rodriguez, they will pounce. There are plenty of other suitors chasing starting pitching, though, starting with the Tigers but extending to virtually every other team in the majors. Houston won't have a problem moving Rodriguez, but may find the going a bit tougher with Brett Myers.

Myers joined the Astros last season after eight up-and-down years with Philadelphia. He broke out last season with a 3.14 ERA in 223 2/3 innings, but an increased allowance in home runs has mostly accounted for this year's backsliding to a 4.67 ERA. All told, Myers is who he is, which is a solid No. 3 capable of putting up an ERA in the 4.00-4.50 range. He does have value as he makes $7 million this season, $11 million the next and then the club can pick up a $10 million option if they so choose. He simply has less value because he's being paid commensurate value and it's a lot easier to find a No. 3 or 4 starter than it is a No. 1 or 2, which Rodriguez is.

Another player that could be on the move in Houston is Michael Bourn, who has a rising price tag, is a free agent after 2012 and boasts Scott Boras as his agent. Bourn's value is probably at its highest right now; he's been consistent the entire year and boasts a career-best .290/.354/.402 line at age 28, leading baseball with 35 stolen bases. Even better, he's only been caught four times, so he has serious value on the basepaths. Add in being perhaps the best defensive center fielder in the game and you have a knockout package for a team looking for the perfect leadoff man.

The Nationals are seeking a long-term center fielder and need a leadoff hitter in the worst way. Bourn fills both categories, and the specter of Boras as agent won't bother the Nats; the team has a close working relationship with Boras and often drafts or signs his players. Other teams that could use Bourn to varying degrees are the Athletics, Blue Jays, Braves, Brewers, Dodgers, Marlins (yeah, right), Padres and Rangers. Of that list, the teams that seem to have the best fit are the Jays, Braves and Brewers.

The Astros are in a challenging situation moving forward, as they clearly need to be rebuilt. Even an incoming owner with public relations issues to be concerned about has to see the situation in Houston for what it is. That makes it extremely important for Crane to communicate his intentions clearly, for Wade to not only see through Crane's wishes, but to extract a deal that solidifies both Houston's and his future.

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


Posted on: July 4, 2011 3:12 pm
Edited on: July 4, 2011 4:01 pm
 

Hurdle upset with McCutchen's snub

Clint Hurdle

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Pirates manager Clint Hurdle wasn't happy about Andrew McCutchen's All-Star snub and made sure everyone knew about before Monday's game against the Astros.

John Grupp of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review passes along Hurdle's tirade:

"I know the challenges that come from [picking an All-Star team]," said Hurdle, who managed the NL All-Star team in 2008. "I sat in that chair. Well, I'm going to take this opportunity and be one of those managers and be disappointed in the entire process. The MLB whiffed. That he's not one of the guys getting in this little vote thing, getting into play in that. They whiffed on that. That's an absolute whiff."

"Look at the numbers he has," Hurdle said. "You can look at metrics. You can look at straight batting average, OPS, stolen bases. Whatever you want to look at, he's an All-Star.

"The players, they whiffed. Everybody whiffed on this one for me, in Andrew's case. Being his manager, I'm going to take my 42 seconds of soap box and remind everybody what a whiff-job they did with him not being on the All-Star team."

McCutchen entered Monday with a slash line of .294/.393/.498 with 12 home runs and 15 stolen bases. He's absolutely one of the best players in the National League, and not just outfielders.

The fans voted for the Dodgers' Matt Kemp, Brewers' Ryan Braun and Cardinals' Lance Berkman, while the players added St. Louis' Matt Holliday, Cincinnati's Jay Bruce and Houston's Hunter Pence. National League manager Bruce Bochy added Carlos Beltran of the Mets and Justin Upton of the Diamondbacks. Upton was the Diamondbacks' lone representative. 

The five players on the Final Vote ballot are the Dodgers outfielder Andre Ethier, Rockies first baseman Todd Helton, Diamondbacks right-hander Ian Kennedy, Nationals first baseman Mike Morse and Phillies outfielder Shane Victorino.

McCutchen is second in WAR (3.7) among NL outfielders according to Baseball-Reference.com and sixth among NL outfielders in OPS (.892) and fifth in OPS+ (150).

In the end, Hurdle knows exactly the reason McCutchen was overlooked and pointed that out as well -- "The name on the front of the jersey has some challenges with it," Hurdle said. "We're out to knock them down. That has been our goal since the start of the season. This is another one we've faced and we'll knock this one down as well."

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: July 3, 2011 12:39 pm
Edited on: July 3, 2011 3:39 pm
 

National League pitchers and reserves

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Albert Pujols may be back before the All-Star Game, the Cardinals said on Saturday, but he won't be on the All-Star team. Here's the rest of the National League team:

National League

Pitchers

Jonny Venters, Braves (players' pick)

Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers (players' pick)

Cole Hamels, Phillies (players' pick)

Jair Jurrjens, Braves (players' pick)

Joel Hanrahan, Pirates (players' pick)

Heath Bell, Padres (manager's pick)

Matt Cain, Giants (manager's pick)

Roy Halladay, Phillies (players' pick)

Tim Lincecum, Giants (manager's pick)

Brian Wilson, Giants (players' pick)

Ryan Vogelsong, Giants (manager's pick)

Cliff Lee, Phillies (player's pick)

Tyler Clippard, Nationals (manager's pick)

Reserves

OF Justin Upton, Diamondbacks (manager's pick)

3B Chipper Jones, Braves (players' pick)

SS Starlin Castro, Cubs (manager's pick)

2B Brandon Phillips, Reds (players' pick)

OF Jay Bruce, Reds (players' pick)

1B Joey Votto, Reds (players' pick)

SS Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies (players' pick)

1B Gaby Sanchez, Marlins (manager's pick)

OF Hunter Pence, Astros (players' pick)

OF Carlos Beltran, Mets (manager's pick)

OF Matt Holliday, Cardinals (players' pick)

C Yadier Molina, Cardinals (players' pick)

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

Posted on: June 27, 2011 8:03 pm
Edited on: June 27, 2011 8:17 pm
 

Should the Astros trade Hunter Pence?

Pence

By Evan Brunell


The Astros are in a tough position with a much-needed rebuild blocked by the transfer of ownership from Drayton McLane to Jim Crane. Houston began the rebuild process last season by dealing Lance Berkman and Roy Oswalt, but have few other players to deal that can fetch value in a deal. One such player is Hunter Pence, but how can Crane sign off on trading the face of the franchise before he even assumes control?

That's a quandary facing GM Ed Wade as Pence is getting increasingly expensive. For a team that needs to rebuild, Pence could bring in a couple vital pieces to aid that rebuilding, but it's not a good idea for a new owner to come in and immediately deal the team's biggest drawing card. Complicating matters is that Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal reports club officials consider Pence a "core player for the future."

Except that Pence, while valuable, is not a star. He's the excellent complementary player every team needs to win the World Series, but isn't someone you build around. Houston needs to keep that in perspective; Pence looks better with the motley crew of teammates he has in Houston than he would in the Red Sox lineup.

At 28, Pence is actually enjoying his best season since 2007, his rookie year. His 22 doubles lead the National League and has contributed nine home runs, landing a line of .315/.356/.490. In this depressed offensive climate, that output creates 38 percent more runs than a league-average hitter, according to weighted runs created, a statistic that measures offensive output by runs and how it compares to league average. That ties the right fielder for 30th overall as baseball's most productive hitter.

There's no question that many teams would give up plenty to acquire Pence. That's why incoming owner Jim Crane needs to put public relations considerations aside and consider a Pence trade if the return makes sense. The Astros simply need to rebuild, a process they have already started. It makes no sense to hang onto Pence when he's making $6.9 million and has two more years of arbitration ahead of him, and with an Astros team unlikely to challenge for the division before he becomes a free agent.

The Phillies desperately need a right-handed outfielder, and while GM Ruben Amaro has made noises about wanting to upgrade the bullpen and having minimal dollars available to tack onto payroll, it's tough to imagine Amaro passing up on Pence who could pair with Domonic Brown and Shane Victorino for a high-octane outfield over the next few seasons. But it's not just Philadelphia who needs outfielders -- Rosenthal mentions the Braves, who are deep in pitching depth and could move some of it for Pence. Atlanta is certainly a better match than Philadelphia, at least on paper, but the team has a $91 million payroll and has invested a ton of future dollars into second baseman Dan Uggla. Are they willing to add another player who will reach double-digits in his annual salary before long?

The odds are that Pence stays and Wade starts the rebuilding process by dealing one of his two starting pitchers in Wandy Rodriguez or Brett Myers -- at least for the rest of the season. The problem is that Wade or his replacement GM will be dealing with a market less voracious for Pence in the offseason. The best move Houston can do to secure its future would be to trade Pence on or before July 31, but the ownership change will torpedo the chances of a deal.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: June 20, 2011 10:06 am
Edited on: June 20, 2011 4:01 pm
 

On Deck: How about a Zito-Soriano swap?


By C. Trent Rosecrans

BASEBALL TODAY: Is 80-year-old Jack McKeon the answer for the Marlins? MLB.com's Tom Boorstein joins Scott Braun to talk about the Fish, Albert Pujols and more. Click on the video above to hear about it all.

TRADE IDEA: There's an old saying that you don't trade players, you trade contracts. And there are hardly two contracts worse than those belonging to Giants lefty Barry Zito and Cubs outfielder Alfonso Soriano. Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News suggests those two swap teams -- well, because it wouldn't hurt. Barry Zito would help out the Cubs' awful pitching, while Soriano would help the Gints' offensive worries. Soriano is paid through 2014, while Zito can be bought out before that season. The Giants would end up paying $7.75 million more in the deal, but Soriano is probably that much more valuable than Zito for them, considering the team's pitching depth.

Sure, both players have full no-trade clauses, so there's that, but it could happen. Baggarly notes he's just spitballing and that he hasn't heard anything about this kind of trade -- but it makes some sense. It's not totally unheard of for the Cubs, who made the bad contract swap with the Mariners before the 2010 season sending Milton Bradley to Seattle for Carlos Silva. It's an interesting thought, that's for sure.

MANAGING THROUGH PAIN: White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen was rushed to a Phoenix hospital Sunday morning where he passed a kidney stone before returning to Chase Field about two hours before the team's 8-2 victory over the Diamondbacks. [Chicago Tribune]

SPEEDY GONZALEZ: Red Sox first baseman Adrian Gonzalez legged out a triple Sunday for his 1,000th career hit. It was actually his third triple of the season, two more than Red Sox outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury. "I was telling Jacoby I have more triples than you do. What's going on?" Gonzalez told reporters after the game (via WEEI.com). "He just said, 'Hey, you're faster than me.'" And a better hitter. 

CLEAN PLAYS: Giants fans are sure to disagree, but Yankees catcher Russell Martin said the play in which Cubs first baseman Carlos Pena bowled into him on Saturday clean, and so was the hit that ended the season of Giants catcher Buster Posey. Martin said it's only a dirty play if the catcher is standing in front of the plate and the runner goes out of his way to hit him, which wasn't the case for Posey and the Marlins' Scott Cousins. [MLB.com]

WEBB STRUGGLES: Rangers right-hander Brandon Webb gave up six hits and four runs in two-thirds of an inning at Double-A Frisco on Sunday.

GOOD NEWS FOR Astros: An MRI revealed no structural damage in the elbow of right fielder Hunter Pence, who has a sprain in his left elbow. He is listed as day-to-day, but manager Brad Mills said he is "questionable" for the Astros' upcoming series against the Rangers. [Houston Chronicle]

NATS PLANS UNCHANGED: You may not have noticed the Washington Nationals are one of baseball's hottest teams, winning eight in a row before Sunday's loss and are now just 4 1/2 games out of first place in the National League Wild Card standings. That doesn't change Mike Rizzo's plans for the future. The biggest decision may be whether to deal starter Jason Marquis at the deadline. If the Nats go into another funk before the end of July, they'll likely deal him. [Washington Post]

GOOD IDEA: Orioles reliever Chris Jakubauskas picked up his first big league hit on Sunday and with that came his first play at the plate when third base coach John Russell waved him home on J.J. Hardy's double in the fifth inning. He was out by a mile. "My main thing was don't fall down, because when I hit third my legs got Jello-ey," Jakubauskas told MASNSports.com.

Mets HEALING: David Wright played catch and took ground balls on his knees Sunday and is expected to ride an exercise bike on Monday as he rehabs from a stress fracture in his lower back. He's expected to have more news after an evaluation later this week. Meanwhile, lefty Johan Santana is still long-tossing and hopes to return to the mound later this week. [Star-Ledger and ESPNNewYork.com]

SMOKELESS Rays: Tampa Bay will be wearing the uniform of the Tampa Smokers on July 2 for their yearly Turn Back the Clock game, but when they released the pictures of the jersey, the team isn't staying true to the team's old logo. The Rays are omitting the cigar pictured on the original jersey, which is just a shame. We all know smoking is bad for you, but if you're not going to actually want to show a cigar, you probably should honor a team called the "Smokers." [JoeRaysFan.com]

THE YANKEE STRIPPER: Need a gift idea for the Yankee fan who has everything? Well, how about a photo of a showering Joe DiMaggio?

A photo from a postage shower us up for auction at Lelands.com if you're interested in that sort of thing. [San Francisco Chronicle]

FATHERLY ADVICE: When the Blue Jays demoted Kyle Drabek to Triple-A, he made a call to his dad for some advice. That's a pretty good idea when your dad has 155 career victories and a Cy Young Award on his mantle. [The Canadian Press]

HEFTY BILL: I'm not sure how aware most casual fans are of this unwritten rule of baseball, but when a big league star has a rehab appearance at the minor-league level, the tradition is the big leaguer buys the postgame meal for the team. Zito says his four rehab starts have cost him $4,500. Somehow, I think he can afford it. [San Francisco Chronicle]

ANOTHER GOOD BAUTISTA FEATURE: Last week Jeff Passan of Yahoo! wrote a great feature looking at the backstory of Jose Bautista. This weekend the Toronto Star's Vinay Menon wrote another good look at the guy who may be baseball's best player right now.

ANOTHER FATHER'S DAY STORY: Former Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu tells the Toronto Star about his father and grandfather, who were in a Japanese-American internment camp in California during World War II.

HARPER RESTS: Bryce Harper sat out his second consecutive game on Sunday, as the Nationals determined he needed to rest more than play at this point. The Hagerstown Suns had been eliminated from winning the South Atlantic League first-half title, so they gave Harper some time off. Harper finished his first half of professional ball hitting .330/.429/.586 with 14 homers, 45 RBI and 13 stolen bases in 227 at-bats. He will certainly play at the South Atlantic League All-Star Game on Tuesday and may then be promoted to high-Class A Potomac for the start of the second-half of the Carolina League season starting on Thursday. [Washington Post]

BAD TRAVEL DAY: Tacoma Rainers broadcaster Mike Curto has the details on the Triple-A team's rough travel day on Friday that saw the team get to the park at 6:45 p.m. for a game that was scheduled to start at 7:05 p.m.

DOES BASEBALL NEED TO BE CHANGED?: The Los Angeles Times asked various people -- including a filmmaker, an actor, an artist and a physics professor -- about how to improve the game. Some of the suggestions are benign, some ridiculous and few give easy answers. But it's an interesting read, anyway.

VENTURA PAIN-FREE: There have been few baseball injuries as grotesque as the one former White Sox third baseman Robin Ventura suffered in a spring training game against Boston in 1997, when Ventura ran slid into Red Sox catcher Bill Haselman and then Ventura held his leg up with a dangling ankle. Today, he's pain-free after an ankle transplant. [Los Angeles Times]

PINGLESS: If you watched any of the College World Series this weekend, you noticed the ping of aluminum bats has been replaced by more of a thud sound. That's because college baseball changed to bats that perform more like wood this season. The results have been dramatic. [New York Times]

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: June 14, 2011 2:19 am
 

3 Up, 3 Down: Pence's streak to 23

Hunter Pence

By C. Trent Rosecrans
 

Hunter Pence, Astros -- A day after sitting out his first game of the season because of a lower back injury, Pence extended his hitting streak to 23 games with a third-inning homer. He added another two RBI in the fifth on a single, giving him 50 driven in this season and stopping the Braves' six-game winning streak.

Carlos Carrasco, Indians -- Carrasco struck out seven while allowing five hits and three walks in seven shutout innings, earning the win in the first 1-0 game at new Yankee Stadium. Carrasco worked out of bases loaded jam with no outs in the first and never looked back. He improved to 6-3 and ended the Indians' four-game losing streak. The Indians have won just two games in their last 11, both Carrasco starts and 1-0 finals.

Ryan Dempster, Cubs -- The Brewers had looked unbeatable of late, but the team couldn't figure out an old nemesis in the Cubs' Dempster. Making his 45th appearance against Chicago and 23rd start, Dempster lowered his ERA against Chicago to 2.50, throwing seven shutout innings, allowing just four hits and striking out seven. He is now 6-0 with a 1.83 ERA in his last eight starts against the Brewers, but didn't pick up the victory, which went to Jeff Samardzija in the Cubs' 1-0 victory.


John Tumpane, umpire -- The home plate umpire for the Tigers and Rays may have helped keep Detroit in a tie for first place in the American League Central. With bases loaded and one out in the seventh, Rays left fielder Justin Ruggiano tried to tag up on Casey Kotchman's fly to right. Magglio Ordonez threw a strike to catcher Alex Avila, who had the plate blocked. The throw beat Ruggiano and Avila blocked it, the only problem was he didn't tag Ruggiano until after the runner touched the plate. Manager Joe Maddon was ejected for arguing the play. The Rays scored in the eighth inning to tie the game at 1, but the Tigers went on to win in the 10th, 2-1.

Ricky Nolasco, Marlins -- The Diamondbacks recorded nine runs (five earned) on eight hits and four walks off of starter Ricky Nolasco in just three innings. The Diamondbacks scored nine before the Marlins secured their second hit. The Marlins finished with a season-high 16 hits (including 10 with runners in scoring position), but the hole was too big to find their way out, losing 12-9 to Arizona. The Marlins finished an 11-game homestead with just one win.

Dee Gordon and Aaron Miles, Dodgers -- Gordon made several highlight-level plays on Monday, but botched a routine grounder by Reds catcher Ryan Hanigan to start the seventh inning. Paul Janish tried to help his fellow shortstop out by hitting a tailor-made double play ball to third, but Miles' throw bounced into the photo well, putting Janish at second. Bronson Arroyo followed with a game-tying single and then reliever Matt Guerrier walked Brandon Phillips and gave up a long homer to Joey Votto, setting up a 6-4 Reds victory.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: June 12, 2011 1:19 pm
 

Pence held out of lineup with back stiffness

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Hunter Pence, in the midst of a 22-game hitting streak, is sitting out the Astros'  game against the Braves on Sunday -- although there's still a possibility he'll play, as the Astros are down to just three healthy outfielders after scratching Jason Bourgeois.

Bourgeois was initially penciled in to replace Pence in right field, but his sprained left ankle is keeping him out of action today, with Jason Michaels playing right.

Pence told reporters he was just getting a day off, but manager Brad Mills said Pence's lower back is still stiff and bothering him.

"Hunter doesn't want to ask for a day off, and God bless him, that's the way you want everybody to be," Mills told Steve Campbell of the Houston Chronicle. "But throughout the conversation he said it hurt him when he ran and he felt like it was going to lock up on him and if it locks up on him when he tries to do something, he could really hurt something."

Pence left Friday's game with a stiff back, but was back in the lineup on Saturday, doubling in the first inning and in the 10th inning of a 6-3 loss to Atlanta. During the streak, Pence is hitting .391/.417/.587 with three home runs and 15 RBI. The team record for longest hitting streak is 30 games, held by Willy Taveras who did it in 2006.

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Posted on: June 10, 2011 9:35 am
Edited on: June 10, 2011 2:57 pm
 

Pepper: Bautista's 'slump'


By Matt Snyder


BASEBALL TODAY: What does the managerial change in Oakland mean? What can you expect from Carlos Zambrano tonight? Danny Knobler joins Lauren Shehadi to discuss those topics and even the NBA Finals on Baseball Today. Click on the video above to check it out.

WORRY ABOUT BAUTISTA? Talk about something I didn't expect to read. Jose Bautista's in a slump. He hasn't hit a home run in -- gasp! -- 11 games. He's 12 for his last 38 (.316). I guess that counts as a slump, considering what he was doing to the baseball before the homer drought.

"I didn't expect to continue to be doing what I was doing the whole season. That would have been pretty hard. I'm working on getting back to where I was." (Sportsnet.ca)

He was amazing and is still compiling an amazing season. He still leads the majors in runs, home runs, walks, average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage and OPS. He's still on pace for 51 home runs. I think I'd need a stretch worse than 12 for 38 before I started to worry.

HITTING STREAK ALERT: I guess it's about time to start paying attention, because Hunter Pence of the Astros has a 20-game hitting streak.

EXTRA EXTRAS: Having to stay up and make sure every game is over before going to bed, I thought maybe it only seemed like a ton of extra-inning games this season and I just never noticed before. I was wrong. There have now been 111 extra-inning games so far this season, which is the most ever at this point in the season. At this pace, the 2011 season will shatter the record. (Bob Nightengale via Twitter) I guess it's another sign of league-wide parity, but I feel like the low-scoring games helps, too.

BAY'S DAYS OFF: Mets outfielder Jason Bay is getting two days off to work on his swing. (MLB.com) It's hard to blame manager Terry Collins, because the Mets should be trying just about anything at this point. Bay hasn't had a hit in 23 at-bats. He's hitting .207 with a dreadful .279 slugging percentage in 164 plate appearances.

"It's a very difficult thing to do," Collins said. "He's proud. He's a pro. He's a star player. And when you're struggling, it's difficult."

Bay is in the second year of a four-year, $66 million contract, so he's not tradeable and the Mets are stuck with him for two seasons after this one. That's why they'll continue to try anything to get him going. In 2009, before the Mets signed him, Bay hit 36 home runs and had 119 RBI for the Red Sox.

In a possibly related tidbit, Adam Dunn sat out two games this week for the White Sox and then homered in his return to the lineup Thursday night.

MAGIC OPERATION: Joba Chamberlain's Dad believes that Tommy John surgery will restore Joba to dominance. “Pitching as well as he has with the ailment, I can only, from a positive perspective, look at it being repaired — and you’re talking about ’07 again,” Harlan Chamberlain said (NYTimes.com). I guess if Joba's been hurt the whole time since then and mishandled along the way -- with the switching between starting and relieving -- it's possible. He wasn't all bad this season before the injury (2.83 ERA, 1.05 WHIP). But that '07 season, man, was he lights out. He threw 24 innings and allowed just 12 hits and one earned run against 34 strikeouts.

MAYBIN BACK MONDAY: Padres center fielder Cameron Maybin is on the disabled list with an inflamed knee, but will go on a rehab assignment this weekend with Triple-A Tuscon. If everything goes well, he'll be back in the Padres' lineup at Colorado Monday. (Follow The Padres)

LOPEZ TO FISH: Talk about a fall from grace. Former All-Star Jose Lopez has been signed to join the New Orleans Zephyrs in Triple-A (Zephyrs Twitter) -- the Marlins' affiliate -- at age 27. He was recently cut by the Rockies after hitting .208 with two home runs and a .233 on-base percentage in 129 plate appearances. Feels like a low-risk signing in hopes of catching lightning in a bottle. In a best-case scenario, Lopez starts hitting like it's 2009, and provides an offensive upgrade at second (and maybe even third, if Greg Dobbs starts hitting like he did in '09-'10). At least until prospect Matt Dominguez is ready.

RENTERIA'S RING: Edgar Renteria finally got his World Series ring Thursday evening, as he returned to AT&T Park as a member of the visiting Reds. He was reportedly emotional and said his Game 5 home run "is still with [him] every day." I'm guessing it's with Giants fans, too, and will be forever. (Extra Baggs)

ROUGH DEBUT: Dodgers prospect Jerry Sands was demoted to Triple-A last night after his first stint in the majors. It didn't go very well, as Sands hit .200 with two home runs, 17 RBI, 10 doubles and a .622 OPS. The good news is he's still only 23. There's plenty of time to get things figured out in the minors, regain confidence and come back to hit the ball well. His promotion may have been a bit quick, as he'd only logged 10 Triple-A games.

WHITHER FIGGY: Chone Figgins has completely fallen apart since joining the Mariners as a free agent after the 2009 season. Fangraphs takes a look at some similar declines in recent years.

RECKLESS TWEETING: The Nationals selected Zach Houchins in the 15th round of the draft this past week. Apparently they either didn't get a look at his Twitter account -- which has since been deleted -- or don't mind some of the bigoted remarks he made. For Love of the Nationals has a few screen grabs. I will never, ever understand how people can be so stupid with Twitter and Facebook. You've got to think things through before sending something that virtually anyone can see.

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