Posted on: July 4, 2010 1:25 pm

Report: Giants have eye on Hart

Corey Hart The Giants are desperate to upgrade their offense, and Prince Fielder has been one of the more popular names linked to them. However, a new name has emerged, and that's Fielder's teammate in Corey Hart.

The report from Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe notes that while the Giants may be interested, the Brewers may elect to hang onto the outfielder currently enjoying a career season with 18 home runs -- .287/.351/.566 overall. He's making $4.8 million the year and has one more year of arbitration ahead of him; he figures to rake in the money after the year he's having.

The Brewers aren't dead yet in the NL Central as they are just 8 1/2 games out. It would be a tough road, but Milwaukee could conceivably rally and make a tight race out of it. As the Rocies and multiple other teams have shown us in recent years, it's not to count anyone out for dead until mid-August if there's still a chance.

That aspect will play a large part in the coming weeks as GM Doug Melvin will have to decide whether to go for it or trade off some valuable pieces, preferably for starting pitching. Corey Hart is just one of several whose futures in Brewers garb could be decided by the team's play leading up to July 31.

-- Evan Brunell

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter.

Category: MLB
Posted on: June 26, 2010 6:17 pm

Thumb injury hampering Heyward

Jason Heyward Jason Heyward isn't slumping, he's hurting.

The Braves' standout rookie outfielder admitted Saturday that he's been hampered by a sore left thumb that makes him unable to grip the bat properly. That explains the apparent decrease in bat speed as his offensive production has plummeted in recent weeks.

"It’s definitely bruised, it’s swollen, and it is also jammed," Heyward told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "It affects consistency in the swing. Everything else around the swing, the load, the trigger, the timing, staying on the ball, you have to have that."

Heyward, 20, is second among outfielders in voting for the National League All-Star team. He is going to sit out at least two games and will see a hand specialist.

Heyward was batting .301 on May 30 and has dropped 50 points since. In that time he has batted .172 and seen his power all but disappear (.232 slugging percentage, one homer and three doubles).

"I'm going to try to do something to get it better," he said. "This is not an excuse. This is what we have to work with. I don’t have a problem going out and playing every day, but this is for the team. Let’s get it better so I can get back to helping the team.”

-- David Andriesen

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter.

Category: MLB
Posted on: June 22, 2010 9:58 pm
Edited on: June 23, 2010 12:27 am

Macha: Hoffman could return as closer

Trevor Hoffman John Axford hasn't done a thing wrong. Four times he's been sent out to save a game for the Brewers, and four times that's just what he's done. In 14 appearances, he's never allowed more than a run.

The trouble is, he's not Trevor Hoffman. The presence of baseball's all-time saves leader on the Milwaukee roster means Axford could be asked to step aside as closer at any time. Brewers manager Ken Macha said Tuesday that with the way Hoffman has been pitching, that's a decision he might have to face soon.

"It puts you out on the plank," Macha said, as reported by MLB.com. "I've got that amongst the other pressures that are placed on me when I come to the ballpark every day."

Hoffman made the decision easy for Macha early in the season, starting the season in horrendous fashion and losing the closer's job. He allowed 13 runs and six homers in his first nine innings -- he has only allowed more than six homers in an entire season once in the past eight years -- and blew four of his first seven save opportunities.

But Hoffman seems to have straightened out his control problems, and hasn't allowed a run in eight of his past nine appearances. He pitched a scoreless eighth in a 1-1 game Sunday, and that caught the manager's attention.

"After that outing, I'd feel pretty good about him coming in now," Macha said. "I thought the other day was his best outing. ... He certainly threw the ball well enough to close the game."

A sign in center field at Miller Park still shows Hoffman's saves total, and it has been stuck at 596 since May 7. Fans might see it turn 600 yet.

-- David Andriesen

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter.

Category: MLB
Posted on: June 15, 2010 1:46 am
Edited on: October 19, 2010 11:22 am

Aybar leaves Angels game with injury

Erick Aybar The hits just keep on coming for the Angels, who lost shortstop Erick Aybar for what could be an extended period of time on Monday.

Aybar left the Angels' game against the Brewers after Casey McGehee executed a takeout slide, causing Aybar to go down in a heap. He was able to hobble off while putting a little weight on the leg, which is encouraging news.

McGehee was on base after being hit by a pitch, likely in retaliation for teammate Randy Wolf's plunking of two Angels. McGehee was less than pleased with being plunked and his takeout slide of Aybar sparked uproar.

The Angels' official website said that Aybar suffered an hyperextended left knee. It is unknown how long Aybar will be out, but a DL stint is not out of the question as most injuries of this type require a period of rest. It is also possible that Aybar tore his ACL, which can happen on more forceful hyperextensions, but the severity of the injury has yet to be reported.

The injury to Aybar is the latest injury to befall a team struggling to deal with the losses of key players in free agency as well as the freak injury to Kendry Morales celebrating a walkoff grand slam. Reports have linked the Angels to Paul Konerko as a way to replace some thump in the offense, but even Konerko can't help the Angels with the loss of Aybar. He was hitting .272/.336/.352 on the season over 261 at-bats.

Maicier Izturis figures to slide over to third, leaving a vacancy open that Kevin Frandsen and Brandon Wood will likely fill. Wood is on the disabled list but will come off it at some point soon -- perhaps even switching places with Aybar -- and will try to reverse his struggles that have seen him go from a former top prospect to a bust.

Category: MLB
Posted on: June 14, 2010 6:43 pm
Edited on: October 19, 2010 11:28 am

Cardinals sign Jeff Suppan

Jeff Suppan The Cardinals signed Jeff Suppan to a contract on Monday with the intent of having the right-hander enter the rotation for Tuesday's game against the Mariners.

The Cardinals are responsible for just the pro-rated major-league minimum salary, while the Brewers will pay the remaining balance on Suppan's 2010 salary of $12.5 million.

Suppan was a member of the Cardinals from 2004-06 and was influential in getting the Cardinals a World Series victory in 2006, starting four games in the postseason and posting a 2.49 ERA.

Suppan departed St. Louis after getting a ring and signed a four-year, $42 million pact with Milwaukee. Despite markedly similar peripherals to his time in St. Louis, Suppan was nothing short of a disaster for the Brew Crew.

While his debut season was in line with his previous years, his 2007-10 numbers combined for an ugly 5.35 ERA.

Suppan will rejoin a team that has Dave Duncan as its pitching coach. Duncan, of course, is known as one of the best pitching coaches in the game with an uncanny knack for taking struggling pitchers and turning them into solid players. Recent disciples include Joel Pineiro, Brad Penny and Kyle Lohse.

However, if Suppan turns it around in his second go-round in Cardinals red, it will have more to do with a regression to the mean than any magic Duncan can craft.

Suppan's 7.84 ERA on the season with 13 relief appearances and two starts is curious given his strikeout, walk and home run numbers are not out of the norm of seasons past. What is out of the norm is his batting average on balls in play (BABIP), strand rate and groundball percentage.

A pitcher -- whether one of the best in the game or the worst -- gives up, on average, .300 average on balls in play. Suppan's mark is at .399, indicating that more balls are finding gaps where they shouldn't be. In addition, Suppan has stranded only 59.2 percent of runners on base, compared with a 70.4 percent mark for his career -- which is around league average. Lastly, Suppan has induced just 37.5 percent groundballs on the season, way off his 45.9 percent career mark.

While some part of his BABIP and decrease in groundball percentage can be attributed to being easier to hit, not all of it can. After all, his K/BB ratio is the best it's been since 2007. It's no surprise, then, that his xFIP rests at 5.05. That doesn't make Suppan a fantastic pitcher, but it does mean that his current ERA is well over and beyond what he's actually produced and a regression (in this case, a good thing) can be counted on.

Suppan may have yet to learn some things from Dave Duncan, but for a back-of-the-rotation starter, Suppan already fits the bill just fine.

-- Evan Brunell

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter.

Category: MLB
Posted on: June 11, 2010 1:12 am
Edited on: April 18, 2011 12:33 pm

Are interleague 'rivalries' still relevant?

Interleague play opens up again Friday and yet again I'm underwhelmed by the Reds-Royals, Mets-Orioles and Pirates-Tigers.

But it's not just those mashups of also-rans that have begun to bore -- anyone excited for Cubs-White Sox? A's-Giants? Dodgers-Angels? Aren't those the reasons we're still stuck with a bastardized schedule? OK, it's Mets-Yankees and nothing else.

Every time this argument comes up, we're pointed toward interleague attendance numbers, without noting that most of those dates are summer nights on the weekend -- nights when teams would draw regardless of the visiting Royals or Pirates.

So what's on tap this weekend for our interleague overlords?

White Sox at Cubs: Nurse that hangover from the Blackhawks parade at Wrigley. What does it say that the NHL in June will overshadow one of the prime interleague matchups? Everything, really.

Astros at Yankees: Loser has to claim Roger Clemens?

• Mets at Orioles: When the Wilpons and Peter Angelos get together, there are no winners. Really.

• Pirates at Tigers: Well, there will be two nice looking uniforms on display.

Nationals at Indians: Yes, they're going to play twice before Steven Strasburg pitches. But one relevant game out of three ain't bad.

• Royals at Reds: The first-place Reds 24th in home attendance. There's only one way to solve that -- a visit by the Royals.

Phillies at Red Sox: OK, I'll admit, this should be a good series. Boston plays in front of sold-out crowds every night, so it's not like this is going to help the gate.

Braves at Twins: Two of the best debuts of 2010 (non-Strasnurg division), Target Field and Jason Heyward meet.

Rangers at Brewers: Does any argument about interleague play hold up when it involves the Brewers?

Blue Jays at Rockies: I got nothing... Blue Jays. Rockies. That's enough.

Mariners at Padres:
Two great ballparks, two awesome cities, one good team.

Angels at Dodgers: If you live in Southern California and want to see the Angels, you've got 81 chances.

• A's at Giants: See above, substitute "Southern" for "Northern."

Oh, the excitement.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter.

Posted on: June 9, 2010 10:14 pm

Lee hits 300th career homer

Cubs first baseman Derrek Lee hit the 300th home run of his career in the fifth inning of the Cubs game against the Brewers. Lee's home run was the first of three in the inning for the Cubs, and the third of five for the game at the time.

Lee hit a 2-1 pitch off of Randy Wolf with one out and one on. Marlon Byrd followed Lee's homer with his second of the game. Geovany Soto also has two home runs.

Lee's teammate, Alfonso Soriano, came into the gmae with 299 career home runs.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter.

Posted on: June 9, 2010 9:14 pm
Edited on: June 9, 2010 9:19 pm

Zaun to have season-ending surgery

Brewers catcher Gregg Zaun will have season-ending surgery on his shoulder on Tuesday to repair a torn labrum. Zaun, 39, says he hopes to be able to return in 2011.

"I wanted to feel good about my chances of coming back to play in 2011, and everybody tells me that this rehab is six months," Zaun told MLB.com . "I'm not unrealistic. I know that next year, whether it's here or somewhere else, I'm going to be the kind of guy who is ready to play the opening day of Spring Training. So I need the extra time, and it was fish or cut-bait time for me. I needed to make a decision."

Zaun was hitting .265 when he went on the disabled list last month.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter.

Category: MLB
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