Tag:Tim Lincecum
Posted on: April 12, 2011 10:13 am
Edited on: April 18, 2011 12:14 pm
 

Pepper: Baseball returns to Japan


By C. Trent Rosecrans

Sendai, Japan, had something to cheer about on Tuesday -- baseball.

The northern Japanese city that was ravished by last month's earthquake is home to the Rakuten Eagles, who opened the Japanese baseball season with a  6-4 victory over the defending champion Chiba Lotte Marines.

The game was played a bit south in Chiba and the Eagles' stadium won't be ready until April 29, but TV showed people in shelters watching the game and each fan in the Chiba cheering section held up signs that said, "Stay Strong Japan."

"Despite the difficult conditions, we are able to open the season because everybody helped us to do it," former big leaguer and current Eagle Kaz Matsui told the Associated Press. "I want to carry this feeling of appreciation for the whole year by playing baseball."

Former National and Yankee, and current Eagle Darrell Rasner said he thought fans were happy to see games played, the Central League also started with the Yokohama BayStars beating the Chunichi Dragons 5-4.

"It is a sense of normalcy for them," Rasner told the AP. "It's something that's ingrained in them and, you know, I think this is going to be a healing process. This is going to be a great thing for them."

Not everyone aggress. 

"Watching baseball is not the first thing on anyone's mind in Tokyo either," reporter Kozo Abe told author Robert Whiting, writing for SI.com. "The Japanese feeling at the moment is that they are not ready to root for the revival of Japanese baseball from the bottom of their heart."

One estimate says there are 30,000 people dead or missing and as many as 400,000 are homeless from the earthquake and tsunami. Half of the 12 NPB teams play in areas affected by the disaster. With many still without power, there's a debate whether using power on baseball games is the best way to use resources. Even though teams are playing more day games, enough power is used one day game at the Tokyo Dome to power 6,000 homes.

The Yomiuri Shimbun, Japan's largest newspaper, has had many call in and cancel their subscriptions to the newspaper that also owns the country's most popular team, the Yomiuri Giants, who publicly were against pushing back the season's starting date to today. The Giants will not play at home until next month in hopes of conserving energy.

It will be interesting to see how many people show up to games. Going to baseball games requires discretionary income, right now that's not exactly in abundance, and if it is, there's better use of that money in Japan.

Baseball did have to return to Japan, a country that loves the game as much (or more) than we do, but the start seems awkward, even though there was no easy way to avoid it. 

TALKING PITCHING -- I join Lauren Shehadi to talk about some of the game's best pitchers. I don't like to overreact to one or two starts at the start of the season, so you know. But hey, you get the picture of me with my beard at its fullest.


NICE TOUCH -- Really nice scene last night when the Giants and Dodgers got together in a  presume ceremony for Bryan Stow, who was beaten in the Dodger Stadium parking lot earlier this month. [Los Angeles Times]

ROAD DOGS -- The first nine games of yesterday were won by the road team and the Blue Jays took an early 7-0 lead on the Mariners before coughing up the lead and giving the home team its first victory of the day. Only once before -- on July 30, 1890, had all the road teams win on a day with 10 or more games.

WRIGLEY'S FOR THE BIRDS -- Flocks of ring-billed gulls have made Wrigley Field one of their favorite feeding spots. At times you'll see more birds than fans in the stands. [Chicago Sun-Times]

NO-HITTER -- Trey Haley, Francisco Jimenez and Clayton Ehlert combined for a no-hitter for the Class A Lake County Captains in a 3-1 victory over the Dayton Dragons on Monday. The Captains are the low-A affiliate of the Cleveland Indians. [MiLB.com]

EVEN PUJOLS SLUMPS -- St. Louis really is America's best baseball towns, and its newspaper, the Post-Dispatch understands that. The P-D has one of the best baseball teams in the business, including Derrick Goold. I say this just to point out the work Goold did on his blog for Monday. Goold took a look at Pujols' slumps in his career and what followed. The moral of the story? You don't want to be a Diamondbacks or Dodgers pitcher this week.

AND JETER -- Derek Jeter's .206 average through his first nine games is the second-worst start of his career. The only time he started worse was 1998, and he had one of his better seasons following that start. However, he was 23. [New York Times]

JIMENEZ CLOSER -- Ubaldo Jimenez threw a bullpen session on Sunday and is on track to re-join the rotation on Monday. Jimenez will throw in an extended spring training. [MLB.com]

DAVIS TO DL -- Blue Jays center fielder Rajai Davis is expected to go on the disabled list today with soreness in his right ankle. He had been playing with the injury, but the team decided he needed rest to fully recover. [MLB.com]

FRIDAY DUNN'S DAY? -- Adam Dunn took batting practice on Monday, less than a week after his emergency appendectomy, but don't expect him back in a game until Friday. [Chicago Sun-Times]

GOOD GENES -- Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips was a proud big brother on Tuesday as his sister, Prosha, was taken by the San Antonio Silver Stars in the third round of the WNBA's draft that was held on Tuesday. The younger Phillips played at the University of Georgia. Her big brother had signed to play baseball at UGA before being drafted. [Twitter]

YOU'D NEVER GUESS IT -- If you had to guess which American League player has a triple in every season this century, how long would it take for you to guess David Ortiz? [Providence Journal]

SUPER SLO-MO -- This video of Tim Lincecum is just killer.

Hat tip to Big League Stew.

YOUTH MOVEMENT -- We all know the Cubs' Starlin Castro is young, but did you know that's he's nearly four months younger than the next-youngest player in MLB, Florida's Mike Stanton. Royals lefty Tim Collins is the youngest -- and shortest -- player in the American League. How about the minors? Braves phenom Julio Teheran is the youngest player in Triple-A, while the Rangers' Jurickson Profar is the youngest player in a full-season league in the minors. He was born Feb. 20, 1993. [Baseball America]

DEFENDING THE INDEFENSIBLE -- Sam Mellinger defends Royals owner David Glass. [Kansas City Star]

SPEAKING OF BAD OWNERS -- Frank McCourt's former attorneys are suing him. [Los Angeles Times]

RETIREMENT INCREASING -- No, not Manny Ramirez, but maybe 99 or 24. Anyway, here's a cool article from Chris Jaffe at the Hardball Times about retired numbers and it has a list of the players with the highest WAR for each franchise without their number retired. Looking at the list, my guess for next to have his number retired is probably Ken Griffey Jr. ANother Cincinnati kid, Barry Larkin isn't on the list, but his number is likely going to be retired soon, too. 

$2 MILLION TACTIC -- Is Buck Showalter's tactic of teaching his players to try to break up a double play when a ball is hit right at the second baseman worth $2 million a season? [Sabermetric Research]

HERO WORSHIP -- Nearly 12 years after the last game he pitched in the big leagues, Jim Abbott is still inspiring others. [Orange County Register]

REDDICK MAKING ENEMIES -- Buffalo Bisons general manager Mike Buczkowski can't be much of a fan of Red Sox prospect Josh Reddick. It's not just that Reddick hit .327 with four homers and 10 RBI in 12 games against the Bisons in 2010, or that he homered in his first game against Buffalo in 2011. No, Reddick added to the misery he's caused Buczkowski on Saturday when on the pitch before his homer, Reddick hit a foul ball that shattered the windshield of Buczkowski's car. Pawtucket play-by-play man Dan Hoard has the details and photos on his blog. [Heard it from Hoard]

PRESIDENTIAL VISIT -- The Nationals' Abe Lincoln mascot made a visit to Lincoln's Cottage in Washington last week. [Lincoln Cottage Blog]

LUCKY CATCH -- A former minor leaguer won a $1 million jackpot in a scratch-off lottery. Joel Torres was released by the Indians this spring and wants to continue his career. [New York Post]

BAY AREA BASEBALL FEVER -- The Giants' run to the World Series title has made an impact on the participation of Bay Area Little Leagues. There are now waiting lists in some leagues. [New York Times]

LINEUP SHOW -- This is an interesting bit of marketing from Japan, a TV program invited all six Pacific League managers to present their opening day lineups and talk about them. I could see that working on MLB Network -- teams know who they're facing and what they're going to do, it only helps build excitement for the hard core fans (and for silly complaints about lineup construction, if you're into that kind of thing.) [YakyuBaka.com]

PUT ME IN COACH -- The Omaha World writes about the best baseball songs. As a huge fan of the Hold Steady, I appreciate any list that includes not only that band, but also its singer. That said, I prefer "Pasttime" from the Baseball Project's first album to "Don't Call Them Twinkies." But my favorite baseball song is still probably "A Dying Cubs Fan's Last Request" by Steve Goodman. All in all, a pretty darn good list -- especially with the inclusion of "Talkin' Softball."

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Posted on: March 22, 2011 10:41 pm
 

Preview of Showtime's Giants series looks great

By C. Trent Rosecrans

I'm probably the target audience for something like this -- and it's working. I've ordered HBO on the day of the first Hard Knocks of the season and I don't even really like the NFL. But now Showtime is doing it's Hard Knocks-like all-access show with the Giants, and if this preview is any indication of what's to come from The Franchise, I'm sold.

Sure, it's following the Hard Knocks storyboards, but that's not a bad thing. I don't care about original, I can put up with the iron pumping if I get to see Brian Wilson's fake cop car, Freddy Sanchez saying he needs to get his wife "liquored up" on Valentine's Day and who knows what we'll see from Tim Lincecum. (OK, I will say I can't be the only one who saw the lighting of the cigar and thought -- for just  a second -- that it was Lincecum.)

Showtime's going to have a free preview on April 13. I'm so there. And when the series starts, I may just have to order Showtime, you know, for work.

Hat tip to 'Duk at Big League Stew.

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Posted on: March 6, 2011 9:45 pm
 

3 up, 3 down for 3/6: Walk-off edition

Tsuyoshi Nishioka

By C. Trent Rosecrans

3 UP

1. D.J. LeMahieu, Cubs. Yes, it's just spring training, but an extra-innings, pinch-hit, walk-off home run is always special. LeMahieu was the Cubs' second-round pick in the 2009 draft and had a solid 2010 in Class A Daytona, hitting .314/.346/.386 with 73 RBI and 15 stolen bases, playing second, third and short. LeMahieu had just two home runs as a pro, so this one may have been even more unlikely.

2. Tsuyoshi Nishioka, Twins. The newly-minted Twins second baseman went 2 for 3 with a triple and two RBI on Sunday against the Orioles. As impressive as his triple was, a third-inning hit-and-run got his manager's attention. With Alexi Casilla on first, Nishioka, batting left-handed, noticed the second baseman going to cover second and hit the ball in the vacated spot, allowing Casilla to advance to third.

3. Tim Lincecum, Giants. This skinny little kid for the Giants may end up being someone to watch. Lincecum was a little wild on Sunday, walking three and giving up three hits in 3 2/3 inning, but he also struck out seven batters.

3 DOWN

1. Mat Latos, Padres. I don't like to make much of early-March numbers, but after his outing on Sunday he  went back to the dugout and fired his glove up against a wall. Latos allowed three runs on two hits and two walks before being lifted after just 2/3 of an inning, when he was scheduled to throw three. He struggled with his command, just 21 strikes among his 38 pitches. In his first start, he went just 1 1/3 innings and walked four batters, with 15 of his 34 pitches called strikes.

2. Mark Buehrle, White Sox. Buehrle was the first White Sox pitcher to go three innings this spring, yet it didn't do too well, allowing nine hits and five runs against the Royals on Sunday. It could have been worse -- the Gold Glover snared a Lorenzo Cain liner that appeared to be headed for a hit in the third inning, which was followed by a double.

3. Alcides Escobar, Royals. My mother always told me not to scratch bug bites or they'd get infected, and I never believed her. Sorry mom, you were right. The Royals shortstop was -- pardon the pun -- scratched from the team's lineup on Sunday following the infection of a bed bug on his right wrist. He'll miss Monday's split-squad games, but is expected back later this week.


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More MLB coverage
Posted on: February 25, 2011 4:06 pm
Edited on: April 18, 2011 11:33 am
 

Rough start for Lincecum in Cactus League

Ah, the smell of the grass, the smell of hot dogs, the taste of a cold beer and the sound of overreaction -- spring certainly is in the air.

The exhibition season got underway today in Arizona, and already there's "trouble" for the defending champs -- Arizona managed five hits and three runs off of Tim Linecum in 1 2/3 innings. The first four Arizona batters singled off of Linecum to start the spring.

Diamondbacks starter Joe Saunders gave up four on four hits runs in 1 2/3 innings.

OK, nobody's too worried about Lincecum, and they shouldn't be. Even on Twitter, all the responses are sarcastic. Really, what's more important is that baseball's back and I'm listening to it on the radio (well, through the internet), but it's still baseball.

UPDATE: The Giants took the Cactus League-opener, 7-6. So at least Linecum doesn't have to worry about a big L in his first start of the season.
-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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Posted on: February 24, 2011 4:06 pm
Edited on: February 24, 2011 5:13 pm
 

R.I.P. Dontrelle's leg kick

Dontrelle Willis

Dontrelle Willis had one of the most distinctive pitching motions in baseball, one that was long-credited with his success, but no more.

John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer tweeted today from Willis' live-BP session and said his "high leg kick is gone."

With Willis' recent struggles, it seems like it's time to try something.

Once one of baseball's great ambassadors, Willis and his funky pitching motion burst onto the scene in 2003, winning 14 games as a rookie and appearing in the All-Star game. Two years later he won 22 games and finished second in the Cy Young Award voting.

In his first four seasons, Willis was 58-39 with a 3.44 ERA; the last four seasons, he's gone 13-24 with a 5.81 ERA. 

Fay reported positive results from Willis' round of BP (yeah, we know, way too early to draw any conclusions), but yet it made me sad for one of my favorite windups.

Other great ones:

Tim Lincecum -- a don't try this at home for kids, but when it looks this cool (and the results are like this), it's tough not to try it.

Tim Lincecum

Orlando Hernandez -- a similar high leg kick as Willis, but his hands are low instead of high and he would look backwards, like Luis Tiant. Add to that an arm slot as predictable as Lost, well, it's always fun to see what El Duque had on tap.

Orlando Hernandez

Hideo Nomo -- loved the throw-back with the hands high over his head motion.

Hideo Nomo

Of course, further back you have great ones in Dan Quisenberry, Luis Tiant, Fernando Valenzuela, Bob Feller and Juan Marichal. 

UPDATE: Fay followed up on his tweet, talking to Reds pitching coach Bryan Price about the lack of leg kick.
“That was pretty much gone when I started working with him,” Price said. “He had been working on that in Detroit. He wasn’t a reclamation project. We just really working on tightening things up.”
-- C. Trent Rosecrans
For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed. 
Posted on: February 17, 2011 9:57 am
Edited on: February 17, 2011 2:06 pm
 

Morning Pepper: Al-booo-ert?

Albert Pujols

There's a lot left to be said about the Albert Pujols negotiations, but the question I've had is what exactly is the fan reaction going to be to him this season? Could the great Pujols actually be booed at home?

Now, if it were any other city other than St. Louis, I don't think I'd wonder this -- I'd expect this. However, St. Louis is America's great baseball city. Not only does the town pride itself on its baseball knowledge, but also the way it treats the Cardinals as a whole and as individuals. Go to Busch Stadium and you'll observe a baseball crowd that loves baseball. And Albert was their king.

Now, though, could it get nasty that he's had a chance to prove his undying love and devotion and decided instead to possibly shop around?

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch asked fans if Pujols would still be a Cardinal in 2012 , AS of 8:30 a.m., 35 percent said he would be, 32 percent said no, and 33 percent answered "I know [sic] longer care]." To no longer care about Albert Pujols in Cardinal red in St. Louis is akin to being an atheist at Vatican City.

Here are some of the comments from the newspaper's website:
Pujols comments


There are also less dignified responses (from a comment section of a website? I know, shocking) calling Pujols out because of his background and also his outspoken Christianity, as well as those making the apple-oranges comments about our current economic state and a baseball player's salary (if you haven't noticed, they're not connected.) In fairness, there were also messages in support of Pujols and the Cardinals and some reasoned debate, but in a crowd of 43,975, that's not always who is heard.

So, when opening day rolls around in St. Louis on March 31 against the Padres and the third Cardinal batter comes to the plate, what will the reaction be? Could a St. Louis icon be booed in St. Louis? We'll see (or hear).

MUST READ: Former Phillies manager Dallas Green talked to reporters yesterday about the loss of his granddaughter, Christina Taylor Green. Here's the report from the Seattle Times ' Larry Stone .

If this didn't get you, you have no heart -- "John called her princess, and I did, too. She was our angel."

NOW ABOUT THOSE OTHER FOUR SPOTS: Wednesday, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly named Clayton Kershaw his opening-day starter. Vicente Padilla started Los Angels' opener last season. Kershaw will face Tim Lincecum in the opener -- not a bad matchup. (Los Angeles Times )

YEAH, HOW COULD THAT GO WRONG?: Cubs outfielder Marlon Byrd is standing by his decision to work with BALCO found Victor Conte.

"Instead of me being dumb and just keep trying different things, I went to reach out to somebody so I didn't test positive," Byrd told reporters, including the Chicago Sun-Times .

Yeah. Good idea.

NO, A REALLY GOOD IDEA: If you have an iPad, check out this awesome-looking iPad app called Pennant . Seriously, while watching the video, I grabbed my iPad and plunked down my $4.99. If you're the type who can get lost in retrosheet.org, this looks great.

TRIBUTE TO TANNER: The Pirates will find ways to honor former manager Chuck Tanner, but they haven't exactly figured it out yet, writes Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review . The team will honor him on opening day and the team is likely to wear a patch. The Reds and Tigers will wear a patch honoring former manager Sparky Anderson this season.

UNCLE ORLANDO: Orlando Cabrera, one of the most entertaining interviews in baseball, officially joined the Indians on Wednesday. The long-time shortstop looks to be the everyday second baseman, joining with "nephew" Asdrubal Cabrera in Cleveland. (MLB.com )

THE MORE YOU KNOW: Baseball America 's always-entertaining minor league transactions .

PLEASE NO: One of my favorite people I've ever met in baseball was the late Ernie Harwell. I was lucky enough to interview him once and will always treasure that.

However, I don't think it's an easy way to make a buck -- Mitch Albom, sportswriter-turned-sap producer, is going forward with a play based on Harwell's life . I'll keep my own memories of Harwell, thanks.

SORIANO'S TRAINING: The Onion on Alfonso Soriano:

Onion SportsDome


EVEN IF ALBERT LEAVES: Buck up St. Louis, you'll always have beer .

And if that doesn't help, how about Adrianne Palicki as Wonder Woman ? I'd lie just to get lassoed for the truth.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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Posted on: November 10, 2010 12:02 pm
Edited on: November 15, 2010 9:46 am
 

MLB Facts & Rumors Cy Young Awards

The major baseball awards will be announced next week, and the staff at MLB Facts and Rumors is making our choices this week. Today, David, Evan and Trent name their Manager of the Year selections. As with the BBWAA awards, a first-place vote is worth seven points, second place four, third place three, fourth place two and fifth place one.

While the National League award is for the best pitcher in the league, the American League vote seems to be a referendum on the BBWAA and its acceptance of newer statistics and abandoning the win as its basis for measuring a pitcher's success.

AMERICAN LEAGUE CY YOUNG AWARD

Felix Hernandez David Andriesen
1. Felix Hernandez, SEA
2. David Price, TB
3. CC Sabathia, NYY
4. Jon Lester, BOS
5. Jered Weaver, LAA

Some people will knock Hernandez for his team’s offensive futility, but I won’t. And if you take wins out of the discussion, he wins easily. Price edges Sabathia with an ERA nearly half a point better. If it seems strange Cliff Lee isn’t in this discussion, keep in mind he missed the first month of the season.

Evan Brunell
1. SP Felix Hernandez, SEA
2. SP CC Sabathia, NYY
3. SP Francisco Liriano, MIN
4. SP Jon Lester, BOS
5. SP David Price, TB

Lee stays off this ballot because in his time in Texas, he wasn't quite Cy Young-worthy as compared to full seasons of the above. Hernandez was otherworldly, but let down by one of baseball's worst offenses in history. With the run support of the Yankees, Hernandez very well could have reached 25 wins.

C. Trent Rosecrans
1. Felix Hernandez, SEA
2. David Price, TB
3. Francisco Liriano, MIN
4. CC Sabathia, NY
5. Cliff Lee, SEA/TEX

I think enough has been said about the Hernandez vs. the world, but I'm not sure Price or Liriano have quite gotten the credit they deserve. So many people have set it up as Hernandez vs. Sabathia, and I'm not so sure that's the right question.

NATIONAL LEAGUE CY YOUNG AWARD

Roy Halladay David Andriesen
1. Roy Halladay, PHI
2. Adam Wainwright, STL
3. Josh Johnson, FLA
4. Ubaldo Jimenez, COL
5. Tim Hudson, ATL

This one is really close, but I’m letting Halladay’s perfect game and NL lead in innings pitched put him ahead of Wainwright, who was second in the NL in wins and ERA. Jimenez came back to earth after his ridiculous first half, as did Johnson, who missed the last month but still finished with the ERA title.

Evan Brunell
1. SP Roy Halladay, PHI
2. SP Adam Wainwright, STL
3. SP Josh Johnson, FLA
4. SP Ubaldo Jimenez, COL
5. SP Tim Hudson, ATL

Halladay got more than he bargained for with Adam Wainwright neck-and-neck for the Cy race, but Halladay gets the nod due to innings pitched and xFIP, which clearly shows that Halladay was the better pitcher. His domination is evident to all.

C. Trent Rosecrans
1. Roy Halladay, PHI
2. Adam Wainwright, STL
3. Josh Johnson, FLA
4. Ubaldo Jimenez, COL
5. Tim Lincecum, SF

It seems to be hard to believe that Halladay didn't live up to expectations -- and considering some expected him to win 30 games, he didn't live up to the highest of expectation. But he still had an amazing season and should win this one going away against some pretty good competition. Still, the fact that Halladay did what he was able to do in a bandbox of a ballpark, it's quite impressive. Kind of like the Rookie of the Year, give me any of these guys in a Game 1 and I feel pretty good.

MLB Facts and Rumors AL Cy Young Award
It's at least a runaway here, as Felix Hernandez gets the nod, making stat-heads happy everywhere. CC Sabathia and David Price tie for what Ricky Bobby would call "first loser." I still have enough faith in the BBWAA that it'll get this one right, despite so many doubters.

MLB Facts and Rumors NL Cy Young Award
The voting isn't as close as the race, but Roy Halladay is the unanimous winner. Expect the real vote to be similar.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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Posted on: October 27, 2010 7:40 pm
Edited on: October 27, 2010 7:41 pm
 

Game 1 hitters welcome clouds


With a 5 p.m. start time in San Francisco, it was looking like bad news for batters at AT&T Park, who would have to deal with twilight shadows and glare. But high clouds have settled in over the ballpark (rain is not expected), eliminating the twilight factor.

The bad news: They still have to bat against Cliff Lee and Tim Lincecum.

-- David Andriesen

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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