Tag:Cliff Lee
Posted on: April 25, 2011 5:01 pm
Edited on: April 25, 2011 5:06 pm
 

On Deck: Weaver vs. Gonzalez

Gio Gonzalez Jared Weaver

By C. Trent Rosecrans
 

Today we're starting another daily feature at Eye on Baseball, On Deck will bring you three of the things you need to know for each night's game, from streaks to showdowns to pennant battles and beyond, we'll highlight three games or players each night, letting you know what to watch for in the day's slate of games.

Best matchup -- Oakland's Gio Gonzalez vs. Anaheim's Jered Weaver. I'm not a big believer in the East Coast bias myth, but will say that if this were a Yankees-Red Sox matchup, you'd already be sick of hearing about these two. Gonzalez is coming off his first loss of the season, a 5-3 defeat at the hands of the Red Sox, but is still 2-1 with a 1.80 ERA. Weaver may be the American League's best starter, at least in April, leading the league in ERA (1.23) and with five wins. The game doesn't start until 10:05 p.m. ET, but it's worth staying up late to watch -- and with these two on the hill, even those on the East Coast won't have to stay up too far after bedtime. A's at Angels, 10:05 p.m. ET

Streaking -- Andre Ethier enters tonight's game against the Marlins as the owner of a 21-game hitting streak. It's the longest April hitting streak in Dodgers history, but still 10 games behind the team's best hitting streak. Willie Davis hit in 31 straight games in 1969, breaking the previous record of 29 held by Zack Wheat, set in 1916. Dodgers at Marlins, 7:10 p.m. ET

Closer watch -- The Phillies have a new closer in Ryan Madson after Jose Contreras went on the disabled list on Sunday. Contreras was already filling in for the injured Brad Lidge, but Madson has been the team's closer-in-waiting for more than a year now and will get yet another shot at showing Philadelphia he can do the job full-time. Tonight may not be his best shot, with Cliff Lee (2-1, 3.91) on the mound for the Phillies and Ian Kennedy (2-1, 5.64) starting for Arizona, there may not be much pressure -- nevermind a save situation -- in the ninth inning at Chase Field tonight. Phillies at Diamondbacks, 9:40 p.m. ET

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Posted on: April 14, 2011 9:22 pm
 

Young Zimmermann overshadowed by dominant Lee

By Matt Snyder

Last year at this time Jordan Zimmermann was recovering from Tommy John surgery. Thursday night, the 24-year-old right-hander had a perfect game through five innings against the first-place Phillies. He ended up allowing two earned runs on five hits through seven innings -- lowering his ERA to 2.95 -- and heads home with the loss.

It's hard to really blame Zimmermann's Nationals teammates for not giving him any run support. When Cliff Lee is locked in like he was Thursday night, he needs very little help. So much for the last outing when he couldn't get through the fourth inning. That wasn't him, especially since only four of the 22 hitters he faced hit line drives.

Thursday night was vintage Lee -- just as I predicted .

He walked only one. He threw a complete game. He was so efficient he only needed 99 pitches. The 12 strikeouts were one shy of his career-high, set July 27 of last season. The Nationals only managed a mere three hits and only one man made it past first base.

Lee deserves all the praise for this masterpiece, even if he made it look so effortless -- but Zimmermann deserves some credit, too. That's a quality outing for an up-and-coming pitcher. He just happened to run into a man who has long since arrived.

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Posted on: April 14, 2011 10:34 am
 

Pepper: McGwire only one to dodge steroid fallout

McGwire

By Evan Brunell

DODGING THE BULLET: The steroid era continues to haunt baseball, as Barry Bonds' obstruction of justice charge is far from the end of the saga.

While Bonds is the posterboy for the whole mess, the former face of baseball has somehow survived a Congressional inquiry, years of self-imposed exile, a much-awaited admission and apology and returned to the game as a coach.

No one could have guessed this when Mark McGwire was stumbling over ways to avoid the past in front of Congress, but he's the only star to avoid any lasting damage, unless one counts his failed bids to make the Hall of Fame. It does really seem as if his lawyers gave him the right information all the way back in 2003 as he avoided lying to Congress and then hid away until it benefited him to come clean to avoid prosecution and get back into the game.

Look, there's no defending McGwire, both for his actions juicing up and for waiting until it behooved him best to admit using steroids, but in his second season as Cardinals hitting coach, there is no paparazzi stalking him and no controversy. At this point, McGwire is just another coach with a long history in the game. That's an impressive feat to pull off. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

BASEBALL TODAY: Can Cliff Lee get back on track tonight? Will Phil Hughes lower his ERA? Matt Snyder joins Lauren Shehadi to answer those questions and more.

STRASBURG BEHIND: Stephen Strasburg has yet to throw off a mound in his return from Tommy John surgery. That places him behind Jordan Zimmermann's own schedule last season, but the Nationals have cautioned everyone rehabs at their own pace and there is no rush. Strasburg has a shot to pitch in September for Washington, but given he has yet to step on a mound, that shot has suddenly become a long one. (Washington Post)

MANNY WHO? The Rays have already found a solution for replacing Manny Ramirez's bobblehead night on May 29. In his place, the club will give away a cape dedicated to Sam Fuld, who was a one-man wrecking crew in the abbreviated two-game series against the Red Sox. Click the link to check out the cape, which is pretty cool. (Tampa Tribune)

GOING CRAZY: Well, that didn't take long. Skipper Terry Collins reportedly went "ballistic" after Wednesday's stinker. A player said Collins didn't single anyone out, but made it clear he wasn't happy with how New York was responding to its recent slide, having lost six of seven. (New York Post)

PANIC ALERT: At the outset of the 2011 season, one keeps hearing how it's too early to draw any conclusions from the play of teams or players. But for one certain writer, it's never too early as he encourages you to go right ahead and panic. Something about how it's healthy and fun to panic. Me? I'd prefer to stay even-keeled, thanks. (Sports Illustrated)

SHORTSTOP PAINS: The Brewers are incredibly thin at shortstop, both at the major-league and minor-league level. Luiz Cruz left the organization to sign with the Rangers despite Milwaukee telling him he would be the first option up to the majors if needed. Then, Triple-A third baseman/shortstop Zelous Wheeler got injured, leaving journeyman Anderson Machado as the first line of defense at short. And if your first line of defense is Machado, you've got serious problems. (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)

TILLMAN BOMBED: Chris Tillman was smacked around by the Yankees on Wednesday, and manager Buck Showalter made it clear after the game that it was unacceptable. "You just can’t let them get away from you and keep the team in the game," he said, also declining to confirm Tillman would make his next start Monday. (Baltimore Sun)

UBALDO RETURNING: Rockies ace Ubaldo Jimenez had a strong rehab outing Wednesday and should make his return to the majors on Monday. (MLB.com)

BACK TO THE ROTATION? Jeff Samardzija has shuttled back and forth between the rotation and bullpen in his fledgling career and may be settling into a niche as a reliever. However, when the team needs a fifth starter again next week, manager Mike Quade says he'll be forced to consider Samardzija along with a host of other options. (Chicago Sun-Times)

MEETING THE PRESIDENT: A select number of Houston Astros coaches and players had lunch with former president George H.W. Bush, an invitation that occurs once a year. "I was a little star-struck when I saw him," third baseman Chris Johnson said. "You see athletes all the time. That’s totally different. It’s totally on another level." (Houston Chronicle)

HAPPY 70, CHARLIE HUSTLE: Pete Rose turns 70 on Thursday, an unthinkable thought to those who grew up idolozing Rose and the Big Red Machine. (South Florida Sun-Sentinel)

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Posted on: April 8, 2011 9:57 pm
 

Jones notches 2,500th career hit

Chipper Jones

By C. Trent Rosecrans

With two hits Friday against the Phillies, Atlanta's Chipper Jones reached 2,500 career hits, but tells Carroll Rogers of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he doesn't expect to play long enough to reach 3,000 hits.

"I think I walk too much," Jones said before Friday's game. "If I played four or five more years, yeah, but I don't see that being all that realistic either."

In the last three seasons, Jones has 373 hits. He turns 39 on April 24.

Jones said he values a career on-base percentage better than .400 more than he does 3,000 hits.

"There's no doubt that if I'd been a little more aggressive throughout the years, 3,000 might have been a possibility," Jones said. "But I'm more proud of the fact that I got a .400 on-base percentage throughout 18 years in the big leagues."

Jones entered Friday's game with a .405 career on-base percentage, 45th best in baseball history.

Of the 27 players in baseball history with 3,000 hits, only seven have a career on-base percentage better than .400. They are Ty Cobb (.433), Stan Musial (.417), Tris Speaker (.428), Eddie Collins (.424), Paul Waner (.404), Rickey Henderson (.401) and Wade Boggs (.415).

Jones doubled in three runs in the in the fourth inning off of Cliff Lee and singled to left in the sixth inning against Antonio Bastardo to reach 2,500. The Braves stopped the game to honor him, playing the theme from The Natural while the feat was acknowledged. Jones' manager for 2,440 

With three RBI in the game, Jones is three short for 1,500 in his career, another nice number.

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Posted on: March 22, 2011 10:14 pm
 

3 up, 3 down for 3/22: Fox strikes again

Jake Fox

By C. Trent Rosecrans

3 UP

1. Orioles bats -- Jake Fox, pictured, hit his eighth homer of the spring for Baltimore, but he wasn't alone in peppering Yankees pitching on Tuesday. Luke Scott hit a shot over the scoreboard in right-center. J.J. Hardy also homered. The Orioles are slugging .445 this spring, the best mark by an American League team in Florida. The Phillies at .447 are the only Grapefruit League team with a better slugging percentage.

2. Wandy Rodriguez, Astros -- Sidelined the last two weeks with left shoulder tendinitis, Houston's left-hander allowed three hits and an unearned run in four innings, throwing 40 strikes in 60 pitches. Rodriguez is scheduled to start again on Sunday and then face Cliff Lee in the Astros' second game of the regular season.

3. Travis Buck, Indians -- The Indians outfielder had two homers in Tuesday's game against the Diamondbacks, raising his spring total to four. He had four total homers in 177 at-bats between the minors and the A's last season.

3 DOWN

1. Adam Dunn, White Sox -- Chicago's new slugger struck out three times on Tuesday in an 0-for-4 performance, giving him 22 strikeouts this spring. He's hitting .208/.311/.358 this spring with one homer in a team-leading 53 at-bats.

2. Mike Leake, Reds -- The day after it looked like Leake had his ticket to Cincinnati punched thanks to Johnny Cueto's injury, the A's took BP on the Reds' right-hander. Leake gave up single runs in each of the first two innings on Tuesday and then allowed five in the third, while recording only one out. In all he gave up six hits, seven earned runs, walked four and saw his ERA rise to 9.39. Daric Barton and Coco Crisp both hit solo homers off of Leake.

3. Welington Castillo, Cubs -- A rough day for Castillo, who nearly beat out an infield single, but showed his catchers speed and was thrown out in his only plate appearance of the day. Sure, lots of folks went 0 for 1 on Tuesday, but not many saw their average drop from .706 to .667. Castillo has 12 hits in 18 at-bats, plus two walks, so his on-base percentage is still .700. For those of you not used to that statistic, it's officially "not too bad."

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Posted on: March 17, 2011 11:10 pm
 

3 up, 3 down for 3/17: St. Patrick's Day edition

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Dontrelle Willis3 UP

1. Dontrelle Willis, Reds -- Not only did Willis pitch a scoreless inning to lower his spring ERA to 2.84, he also tripled and scored a run off of Indians' opening day starter Fausto Carmona.

2. Jason Heyward, Braves -- After missing the last five games with back discomfort, Heyward had a two-run homer and scored twice. He's hitting .440 this spring.

3. Jake Fox, Orioles -- The Orioles catcher had two homers in Thursday's 13-3 victory over Pittsburgh. He now has seven this spring, including four in the last three games. Still, manager Buck Showalter said defense will determine whether he makes the club out of spring.

3 DOWN

1. Jonathan Papelbon, Red Sox -- Boston's closer has had a terrible spring -- and it wasn't any better on Thursday. For the second time this spring, he was lifted in the middle of an inning, allowing four runs on two hits in 2/3 of an inning. He's now 0-1 with a 12.60 ERA this spring.

2. Cliff Lee, Phillies -- Lee gave up homers to Toronto's Juan Rivera and Edwin Encarnacion in a five-run fourth inning. Only three of those runs were earned, but he's given up six earned runs in his last two starts. Just a hunch, but I think he'll be OK.

3. Ubaldo Jimenez, Rockies -- Coming into Thursday's game against the White Sox, Jimenez hadn't given up a run all spring. He gave up seven on at Salt River Fields on eight hits.

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Posted on: March 14, 2011 5:42 pm
Edited on: March 14, 2011 5:43 pm
 

Amaro: trade rumors are 'b.s.'

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Ruben AmaroThe Phillies may have some questions about Chase Utley's health, the team's third baseman and the interim right fielder until Domonic Brown is ready to return, but general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. says the team won't do anything because there's no room in the budget.

"I have no money to play with," Amaro told Jim Duquette on MLB Network radio (via the Philadelphia Daily News). "Our payroll is going to be over $160 million or so and I'm tapped out, my friend. Maxed out."

He said trades were out of the question, too.

"And those rumors you're hearing about third basemen and acquiring [a] second baseman and third baseman?" Amaro said. "All b.s., my friend. Just so you know."

Of course, Daily News beat writer David Murphy notes Amaro made the same calls of payroll inflexibility at last year's trade deadline when Philadelphia traded for Roy Oswalt and took on approximately $11 million over two seasons. He also cried poor this offseason and was able to squeeze out $120 million over five seasons for Cliff Lee.

The team could clear some space by moving Joe Blanton, who Amaro has said isn't going to be traded.

So, anyway, get ready for that big Phillies trade, because the storm winds are a blowin'.

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Posted on: March 12, 2011 3:35 pm
 

Cliff Lee admits Rangers were No. 2 choice

LeeBy Evan Brunell

When ousted Rangers CEO Chuck Greenberg stated he felt the Rangers finished No. 2 behind the Phillies in the bidding for ace Cliff Lee, Yankees president Randy Levine ripped Greenberg for being "delusional."

And yet, Lee himself confirmed the order of teams he would have signed with as he tells Philadelphia radio station WIP.

"Texas probably finished second to be honest with you," Lee said. "Just as far as the quality of the team and the chance to win a World Series ring, I think they’re a better team. That’s just my opinion. The Yankees can do anything at any moment to improve and they’re not afraid to go do things. That was part of the decision making process too, but I felt like with what the Red Sox had done and it seems like some of the Yankee guys are getting older, but I liked the Rangers."

The Red Sox of course inked Carl Crawford to a major deal and traded for Adrian Gonzalez while also building the bullpen. The Yankees, meanwhile, are getting no younger but are just two years removed from a World Series title and is just one strong starting pitcher away from being a legitimate threat in October.

However, the Phillies are absolutely stacked and may have a better window of opportunity to win over the next several years than New York, doubly so when you look at the competition inside the division to finish first place. Texas, meanwhile, is a young team with quality players that should contend in the AL West for quite some time.

Phillies

The stacked Phillies team and road to a ring was the deciding factor in his decision, Lee said -- not money, as had been rumored for months. "Probably just the quality of the team," Lee said as to his No. 1 factor. "My chance to win a ring or even multiple rings. That was probably at the top.

"I tried to remove all the money and the smaller things and which team would give me the best chance to win," Lee added.

Although Lee has appeared in the previous two World Series, a ring still eludes him -- and he'd like that to change.

"I haven’t gone all the way yet. I haven’t won a ring and that’s what I want to do," he noted. "Hopefully I will get a few chances and walk away with a few rings. That’s really what it’s all about every year. That’s the ultimate goal and I wanna come through on that a few times."

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