Posted on: July 27, 2011 10:30 am
Edited on: July 27, 2011 1:02 pm

Pepper: Is it Rasmus or La Russa in St. Louis?

Colby Rasmus

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Soap operas are being taken off network TV, but at least we still have baseball.

By the way he's portrayed, you'd expect St. Louis center fielder Colby Rasmus to be the guy with the badly dyed goatee and have ominous music every time he appears on screen. That's at least the way Cardinals manager Tony La Russa (speaking of bad dye jobs) keeps playing it.

The latest barb? Speaking to KSDK-TV in St. Louis, La Russa said Rasmus doesn't listen to the team's coaches.

"No, he doesn't listen to the Cardinal coaches much now, and that's why he gets in these funks, in my opinion," La Russa said, according to MLB.com. "If he would just stay with [basically] what they teach, he would have … but I actually feel concern for him, because he hears it from so many places, he's got to be confused."

That, of course, is a swipe at Rasmus' dad, who has been critical of La Russa publically. 

The Cardinals are actively shopping Rasmus, CBSSports.com's Danny Knobler tweeted yesterday, and if they do deal him, it's got to be a sign that the 66-year-old La Russa will stick around a couple of more years in St. Louis. Dealing Rasmus doesn't make much sense (unless there's a huge return) in a baseball-sense, but it does placate La Russa. La Russa is signed to a one-year deal with a mutual option for 2012. It may come down to a decision for general manager John Mozeliak whether he wants to tie his future to a talented 24-year-old or a manager who has managed more than 5,000 games. What happens before Sunday could tell us quite a bit about the future of the Cardinals.

No platoon: Sticking with the Cardinals and La Russa, Daniel Descalso has started at shortstop in five of the 11 games since the All-Star break, but La Russa denies there's a platoon with Descalso and Ryan Theriot. [St. Louis Post-Dispatch]

Contentious in Chicago: Cubs outfielder Marlon Byrd got into a shouting match with a fan before Tuesday's game in Milwaukee. The fan yelled "you guys suck," according to the Chicago Sun-Times. Byrd responded, "We may suck, but you're pathetic." 

Chipper out again: Braves third baseman Chipper Jones returned to the Braves' lineup from a knee injury on Monday, but then miss Tuesday's game and will miss the next few with a right quad injury. The 39-year-old has played in 78 games this season. [Atlanta Journal Constitution]

Conspiracy theory: Phillies fans got on Giants manager Bruce Bochy for how he used Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay in the All-Star Game. Several fans at the team's hotel heckled Bochy saying he tried to overuse both Philadelphia pitchers -- though Bochy notes he used both for fewer than 25 pitches. [San Jose Mercury News]

Throwing Trout back: The Angels are expected to send heralded prospect Mike Trout back to the minor leagues soon. [Orange County Register]

'Cool cat': That's how Giants reliever Sergio Romo described President Barak Obama after the Giants' visit to the White House. I'm sure plenty of people said that about Chester A. Arthur, too. [San Francisco Chronicle]

Reds return: Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com takes a closer look at the two minor league players the Reds received in return for Jonny Gomes.

Perfect in minors: Former Padre Justin Germano threw a perfect game for the Triple-A Columbus Clippers on Tuesday. It was just the fifth perfect game in the history of the International League. The Clippers are the Triple-A affiliate of the Indians. [Columbus Dispatch]

Barton hurt: There's nothing we here at Eye On Baseball like more than making fun of our fellow team member's bad calls -- like my call of Manny Ramirez as the AL Comeback Player of the Year -- so it never fails that any mention of Daric Barton gets Evan Brunell some good-nature ribbing. Brunell said he'd take Barton over Prince Fielder, Mark Teixeira or Ryan Howard -- so yeah. (Of course, I had some questionable picks, too -- Rasmus No. 1 in center?) But the point other than making fun of Evan? Well, it's that Barton, now in Triple-A, has a tear in his labrum and will see a doctor today. [San Francisco Chronicle]

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Posted on: July 26, 2011 9:29 am
Edited on: July 26, 2011 9:42 am

Pepper: Bedard's start in nick of time

By Matt Snyder

Good news is hard to come by when a team has lost 16 games in a row, but the Mariners at least received marginally good news Monday. Left-handed starting pitcher Erik Bedard will return to the mound Friday (MLB.com).

On the surface, it's kind of a "who cares?" type movement. The Mariners are 15 1/2 games out and obviously will not factor into the AL West race. It's just that there's something else rapidly approaching, and that is the non-waiver trade deadline. Bedard is 32, on a one-year contract and has been effective when healthy this season (3.00 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 85 strikeouts, 26 walks in 90 innings).

With the deadline Sunday at 4:00 p.m. ET, Bedard's start coming Friday, several contending teams looking for starting pitching, a lack of quality starting pitchers readily available and the Mariners obviously in selling mode, Bedard coming off the disabled list couldn't come at a much better time for all parties involved. As long as he gets through the start healthy, expect to hear his name in rumors this coming weekend.

HOW TRADES HAPPEN: Former Reds and Nationals general manager Jim Bowden now writes for ESPN, and he has an article up about how trades happen. It's nothing really Earth-shattering, in fact it might seem a bit obvious, but it's still a detailed look about the methodology of going through a major-league trade from someone who has made several in his time.

BUCHHOLZ PROGRESSING: The Red Sox have the best record in the American League, and they've been doing it of late with a patchwork pitching rotation. Jon Lester returned Monday night and now Clay Buchholz is making solid progress in his fight to return from a back injury. Monday, he estimated that he's "75 to 80 percent" healthy after throwing a bullpen session, including breaking pitches (Boston.com).

LACK OF SECURITY: Last week, a fan ran onto Citi Field during a Mets-Cardinals game. Usually when these clowns run on the field, they're stymied by security pretty quickly. Not this time, as the fan took security for quite a ride. Jon Bois over at SB Nation has the details along with video and a map.

WHITE HOUSE INVASION: The Giants won the World Series last year with a group of colorful personalities. That group was back together Monday as the champs visited President Obama in the White House. The Giants went through the usual song and dance, glad-handing with the President, giving him some gifts and posing for plenty of pictures. Perhaps the best part of the whole visit was the presentation. You wouldn't expect personalities like Tim Lincecum or Brian Wilson to dial anything down for the visit -- like a haircut or shave, perhaps -- and they didn't disappoint. Check out the photo at right here, courtesy of the Associated Press.

SEVEN DOWN, TWO TO GO: Michael Cuddyer went into Monday night's game having played six positions for the Twins: First base, second base, third base, left field, right field and center field. After manager Ron Gardenhire saw his pitching staff bludgeoned for 25 hits and 20 runs in seven innings against the Rangers, he turned to Cuddyer for the eighth. Cuddyer ended up throwing the only scoreless frame of the game for the Twins. Sure, he gave up two hits and a walk, but he got through it without allowing a run (3 Up, 3 Down). No other pitcher for the Twins Monday could say the same -- Phil Dumatrait had a line with zero earned runs, but did allow two inherited runners to score. So now the only two positions Cuddyer has never played in a game for the Twins are shortstop and catcher. He has appeared as a DH before, so if you want to count that, he's eight for 10.

A-ROD ON TARGET: Yankees injured third baseman Alex Rodriguez had surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee on July 11 and was given a four to six weeks timetable for his return. As things presently stand, everything is in order and the Yankees expect him back by mid-August (MLB.com).

WALLACE'S TIME LIMITED: Brett Wallace got off to a hot start for the Astros this season. It wasn't just a few games. Through April 30, Wallace was hitting .388 with a .988 OPS. Since then, however, both figures have pretty progressively come down to the current marks of .279 and .749, respectively. Manager Brad Mills has reportedly tried to balance protecting Wallace against left-handers versus trying to develop the young first baseman. Mills is now leaning toward sitting Wallace more often against left-handers (Ultimate Astros).

BALL-HAWKIN': Highly-touted Angels rookie Mike Trout hit his first major-league home run Sunday, and it was caught by famous ball hawk Zack Hample -- who has caught over 5,000 balls at major-league games and written three books on the subject. The OC Register has the story about how Hample planned to catch Trout's first homer, how he made it happen and how he gave the ball back to Trout.

MORE DAY BASEBALL: When the Marlins move into their new home next season -- hopefully to a lot more fanfare than they get in their current football stadium -- they'll be playing a lot more day games (MLB.com).

BROOKS WAS HERE: The Orioles have begun building a statue to honor Hall of Fame third baseman Brooks Robinson at Camden Yards. The statue will be nine feet tall and weight 1,500 pounds. It's scheduled to be unveiled Oct. 21 of this year. Fittingly, the statue will depict the 16-time Gold Glover preparing to make a routine throw to first base (Baltimore Sun).

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Posted on: July 25, 2011 9:01 am
Edited on: July 25, 2011 10:53 am

Pepper: The odd story of Kei Igawa

By Matt Snyder

The New York Yankees paid $46 million to bring Kei Igawa to America in 2007. He's been nothing short of a colossal bust since, as he compiled a 6.66 ERA and 1.76 WHIP in 16 major-league appearances. He has been in the minors since July 2008 and is not coming back. In fact, the Yankees tried to send Igawa back to Japan, but he refused. No other teams have interest in Igawa, and the Yankees have declined to release him.

Instead, Igawa and the Yankees seem to be simply riding out the contract, which does expire at the end of this season. He lives in Manhattan, yet doesn't go to Yankees games or even watch them on TV.

“I don’t watch their games anymore,” Igawa said (New York Times). “I never follow them.”

He commutes from Manhattan to Scranton for his Triple-A games every single day. He's reportedly quiet and a bit of a recluse. His minor-league numbers aren't bad, but they aren't really good either. He's married with at least one child, but won't reveal how many kids he has or his wife's name. They don't come with him to America, so he spends baseball seasons alone.

The story of Igawa is interesting and a bit odd, too. It's pretty long, but a highly recommended feature in the Sunday edition of the New York Times.

Hat-tip: Big League Stew

TRIVIA QUESTION: For a guy who has struck out just six batters per nine innings throughout his career, getting to 2,000 total would take quite a while. And it did. After 17 years and almost 3,000 innings, Tim Wakefield recorded his 2,000th strikeout Sunday in a Red Sox uniform (BostonHerald.com). He had 110 strikeouts for the Pirates way back in the early 1990s, so he was already over 2,000 for his career. Here's the trivia question: Only one active pitcher has more career strikeouts. Who is he? See the very last entry in this post for the answer.

JOHAN GETTING CLOSER: Mets ace Johan Santana might be ready to make a minor-league rehab start Wednesday. It would be significant because rehab stints are limited to 30 days, so Santana wouldn't be pushed into the outing unless he was less than a month away from returning to the majors. He still needs to make sure his surgically repaired left shoulder feels good when he wakes up Monday. “As of right now, it’s a wait-and-see mode. We’ll see how it is [Monday] and go from there," Santana said (New York Times). Then again, general manager Sandy Alderson reportedly believes another simulated game is the next step (ESPN New York).

NO MO' WILY MO: The Diamondbacks released Wily Mo Pena on Sunday. The 29-year-old outfielder -- if we can call him that -- embodies the term "two true outcomes," as he hit five home runs and struck out 19 times in his 46 at-bats. He only had nine hits total and didn't take a walk. He certainly doesn't deserve a spot on the major-league roster with that kind of production, but when he gets into a pitch, it goes a long way. I think someone should pick him up just to put on a show in batting practice. Can't go wrong there. (Diamondbacks official Twitter)

QUALITY CONTROL: As Yankees relief pitcher Rafael Soriano works his way back from injury on a rehab assignment, the Yankees are going to base their decision on performance, not health. "We want to see him throwing the ball well and that his stuff is back," manager Joe Girardi said. "I think that's important. So to say that if he goes back-to-back, is that all you have to see? No. We have to see the quality of the stuff more important than the back-to-back." (MLB.com) It might sound obvious to judge on performance, but teams don't always do that. Once a guy is healthy, he's generally returned to the majors. For example ...

WANG TO START FRIDAY: Chien-Ming Wang will start Friday for the Nationals, despite being roughed up in his last Triple-A rehab start. He allowed five runs in five innings (Washington Post). It will be Wang's first major-league start since July 4, 2009.

SIGNATURE SANDWICHES: Concession company Aramark held social media voting on the best signature sandwiches at 11 MLB ballparks. Sports and Food has the list of winners, and it includes some pretty mouth-watering selections, which includes yet another reason to visit PNC Park.

RETREAD CITY: Remember Angel Berroa? He was the 2003 AL Rookie of the Year as a member of the Royals. He fizzled a few years later and hasn't played in the majors since 2009. He actually wasn't even playing in the minors this season, instead playing with the independent Bridgeport Bluefish. That didn't prevent the Diamondbacks from noticing him, as they've now signed him. He will report to Triple-A Reno (Bridgeport Bluefish official site). This is the same ballclub that went with Wily Mo Pena, Russell Branyan, Xavier Nady, Melvin Mora, Geoff Blum and Sean Burroughs this season.

TEMPORARY RETURN: Philip Humber of the White Sox has performed so well as a starting pitcher that the White Sox felt compelled to go with a six-man rotation. Because of a rainout, however, Humber will be shifted back to the bullpen for a few games this coming week. "I'm good with it," he said (Chicago Tribune). "Whatever they want me to do. I've said all along, when they give me the ball, I'll do the best I can with it."

CHEESY CELEBRATION: Terry Francona won his 1,000th game as a manager Saturday night when his Red Sox took down the Mariners. He celebrated by having a grilled cheese sandwich. (Full Count)

ON THIS DAY IN BASEBALL HISTORY: Roger Maris homered four times in a double-header in 1961, en route to hitting a then-record 61 home runs.

TRIVIA ANSWER: Javier Vazquez with 2,456. (Baseball-Reference)

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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