Posted on: May 6, 2011 10:10 am
Edited on: May 6, 2011 10:13 am
By Matt Snyder
THE SAN FRANCISCO TREE: There's a nine-foot tall avacado tree growing behind the center-field wall at AT&T Park. It was born when a former groundskeeper left an avacado pit in a jar of water for a few months, only to see it sprout. He needed a place to plant it, so he did so at the ballpark. Ten years later, it's now standing in an area where the club grows replacement sod for the playing surface. It's a really cool and quirky story you don't see often. (Mercurynews.com )
QUICK TURNAROUND: The Rangers played a night game in Seattle and will have to rush back home to face the Yankees Friday night. They're looking at getting home just over 12 hours before the start of Friday's game. The Yankees, on the other hand, we already checked into their hotel in Arlington before the Rangers Thursday game in Seattle was even started. Shouldn't getaway day pretty much always be a day game, with things like these happening frequently across baseball? Well, city ordinances are in the way. Seattle only allows the Mariners to play eight day games due to traffic issues around the ballpark. There are things like this in several cities across the nation, too. It's just one of those things teams have to deal with from time to time. Hey, they get to play baseball for living, they can deal with the quick turnaround, right? (ESPN Dallas )
QUIET RETIREMENT: Remember Russ Adams? He played for the Blue Jays for a handful of seasons and has disappeared. Apparently he retired Thursday from Triple-A Buffalo (a Mets affiliate). (ESPN New York )
DAMON RISING: Johnny Damon is climbing up the all-time hit list, as he now sits 75th. That's right, of all the guys who have ever played in Major League Baseball, only 74 have collected more hits than Damon. It's actually realistic for him to climb into the top 55 by the end of the season, too. Feels like he might have a pretty underrated body of work, but I wouldn't start talking about the Hall of Fame until he's retired and we can let his resume breathe. Here's a trivia question: There are four active players with more career hits than Damon. Can you name them? (Tampabay.com )
REVIEWING Cliff Lee TRADES: The Seattle Times rounds up the three Cliff Lee trades. There are some names you'll recognize in there, like Ben Francisco, Lou Marson, Jason Donald, Carlos Carrasco, Mark Lowe and Justin Smoak. And while Smoak is hitting quite well right now and could turn into a star, the hauls each team got for Lee don't look to measure up to Lee himself at this point. COnsidering the Phillies got prospects back for Lee and then went and signed him in free agency, they'd have to be considered the winners. Honestly, though, I can't really see a big loser. The Indians got lots of young talent and weren't re-upping with him. The Mariners essentially exchanged prospects for a few months of Lee, but Smoak appears to be the best player that changed teams in the trades other than Lee. The Rangers gave up Smoak and only had Lee for a half-season, but went to the World Series.
REVIEWING THE GRANDERSON TRADE: By August of 2010, many were talking about how the Yankees' deal to acquire Curtis Granderson was a loss. After all, the Tigers ended up with Austin Jackson, Max Scherzer, Phil Coke and Daniel Schlereth while the Diamondbacks got Ian Kennedy and Edwin Jackson. But looking at Granderson vs. Jackson this season shows the Yankees didn't fare too poorly either -- and it's probably because Granderson's gonna drop 40 bombs , right? (WSJ.com )
TAKING ONE FOR THE TEAM: I absolutely love this one. A Royals blogger a while back suggested Wilson Betemit should have let himself get hit by an inside pitch with the bases loaded in a tie game. Fans do this all the time without thinking about the pain aspect, but to Lee Judge's credit, he wanted to put his money where his mouth was. So he got with the team and they fired up the pitching machine and he wore a 92 m.p.h. fastball, just to see what it felt like. There's a video and everything. (Kansascity.com ). As an aside, I have an excuse to pimp my brother's feat here. He played baseball for Valparaiso University and was hit by a pitch a whopping 27 times his senior year. So I have access to a great authority in HBPs. You know what he would say? YOu're damn right it hurts, but it's only temporary.
NOVEL CONCEPT: While many teams in baseball are suffering downturns in attendance due to the economy, weather and probably some other factors, the Blue Jays are flourishing. They're up 56.6 percent since last season at this point, and this with the on-field product not doing so well. So, what gives? Well, for the first time in years they have made an aggressive marketing campaign. Wow, go figure. (The Globe and Mail )
HIGH PRAISE: Jerry Hairston has faced Greg Maddux, Pedro Martinez, Randy Johnson and Roger Clemens -- easily the big four guys who endured the PED era from the bump. So when he says "he's the best pitcher I've ever faced," who was he talking about? Roy Halladay. (Nationals Journal )
REMEMBER ME? Joey Devine is going to return to the A's bullpen soon. If you'd forgotten about him, you're forgiven. Devine has missed the past two seasons after having Tommy John surgery. He's 3-0 with a 0.00 ERA in 7 1/3 innings in Triple-A Sacramento. He's struck out nine hitters without allowing a single walk. He's only given up three hits. Yeah, I'd say he's ready. When Devine last threw in the majors, he was lights-out. In 2008, he had a 0.59 ERA, 0.83 WHIP and 49 strikeouts in 45 2/3 innings out of the Oakland bullpen. He's still only 27, so he will be a major reinforcement for an already-strong pitching staff. Expect a promotion within the next few days.(SFGate.com )
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Posted on: May 5, 2011 5:48 pm
By C. Trent Rosecrans
With eight of the day's 12 games starting before a regular 7 p.m. start time, there's not the full compliment of on-deck choices, but luckily the night games feature three pretty good pitching matchups… and the Rangers and Mariners.
Stopper needed -- The Brewers have lost five in a row, including two yesterday in Atlanta, and are now four games under .500 at 13-17. Luckily for them, Shaun Marcum is on the mound. Marcum was the last Brewers pitcher to earn a victory, last Friday at Houston. Marcum is 3-1 with a 2.21 ERA and faced Brandon Beachy (1-1, 3.47 ERA). Brewers at Braves, 7:10 p.m. ET
If it weren't for bad luck… -- Nationals starter John Lannan has a 3.93 ERA in his three losses, and actually has a better WHIP in his losses (1.364) than in his two wins (1.600). In his last game, he allowed just six hits and two runs in 6 2/3 innings, but walked in a run in the seventh, losing the game 2-1 to the Giants. And tonight he faces Roy Halladay. Nationals at Phillies, 7:05 p.m. ET
Daddy done good -- Since his wife gave birth, the Diamondbacks' Ian Kennedy has allowed just three runs and nine hits in 16 2/3 innings, limiting batters to a .148 batting average and striking out 16. He's facing Colorado's Jason Hammel, who is 3-1 with a 3.23 ERA. Rockies at Diamondbacks, 9:40 p.m. ETFor more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: May 5, 2011 10:30 am
Edited on: May 5, 2011 1:20 pm
By Matt Snyder
FINISH HIM: Roy Halladay is an old-school pitcher in more ways than one, but we'll just concentrate on the complete games for today. He toes the slab each day expecting to finish the job he started. And he does it with rare frequency in this day and age of obsessive pitch counts and situational relievers. As I noted on Baseball Today -- which you should have already viewed above -- Halladay is such a complete game machine that he has more since 2003 than all but six major-league teams. Of course, the Blue Jays lead the majors in that span due to the 44 Halladay provided them (of 77 total) and the Phillies 56 in that span, just one more than Halladay -- who has provided the Phillies with 11 thus far. He's great in so many ways, but Halladay's ability to complete games unlike any other single pitcher this generation is what truly sets him apart. (MLB.com )
NAME THAT TEAM: The Reds have a new Double-A affiliate coming to Pensacola, Florida. The team name is being chosen through a voting process with the fans. They have narrowed the field to six finalists now: Aviators, Blue Wahoos, Loggerheads, Mullets, Redbones and Salty Dogs. Mullets? Really, Pensacola citizens? I like creative names, but making a joke won't be funny for much longer than a few days. I love the other five choices, actually. Which means Mullets will win. (PNJ.com )
HELTON TIES GEHRIG: Todd Helton ripped a double Wednesday night, which was No. 534 of his career. It tied him with the great Lou Gehrig for 31st on the all-time list.
"It's an honor to be mentioned at any level with a guy like that," Helton said. "That's a lot of doubles. I always considered myself a gap-to-gap hitter, and that's the way you get doubles. "More important, there were two guys on, and they turned out to be pretty big runs." (MLB.com )
GROUND RULES: Not one, but two games were affected by a batted ball being lodged between the outfield wall and the ground Wednesday night. In Tampa Bay, it was off the bat of Evan Longoria. Had Juan Rivera left the ball there and gotten a ground-rule double ruling, the Jays wouldn't have clipped Johnny Damon at home as he was trying to score from first. The Blue Jays ended up winning by one, too. On the other hand, in the same situation in Kansas City, Orioles' center fielder Adam Jones left a ball lodged in the base of the wall and let the umpire make the call while Mike Aviles raced around the bases for a would-be inside-the-park home run. The umpire called it a ground-rule double and Aviles was eventually stranded as the Orioles won by one run. Particularly disturbing was how easily Jones pulled the ball from the wall after the umpire made the call. It was stuck, only lodged. I don't want to make outfielders sift through obstructions in the outfield, but they shouldn't be able to gain an advantage for their team by refusing to touch a ball that slightly lodges in the wall. Please note, I'm not blaming Jones. It was smart because he knew what would be called. The rule is the issue. (MLB.com )
SIGN LANGUAGE: Mets catcher Josh Thole has a dog that was discovered to be deaf. Along with his wife, Thole has taught the dog to understand sign language and has since made many friends in the animal-care community. (New York Daily News )
SOON TO BE GATHERING DUST: Raise your hand if you're interested in reading John Rocker's "memoirs." Yeah, apparently his book, which he's shockingly having to self-publish, is due out in June. It's called "Scars and Strikes." It's reportedly a mixture of politics and sports. That's good. I always felt he needed to talk more about his political views, because it's paramount we learn what he thinks as soon as is humanly possible. I don't even know how we've survived the past few years without hearing much from him. (AJC.com )
THERE'S A STAT FOR EVERYTHING: In case you don't believe me, cloudy skies benefit hitters while wide-open blue skies benefit pitchers. Seriously. "Brighter conditions may result in increased eye strain for a batter and a higher level of glare in a ballpark," a meteorological study found. (OC Register )
CENTURY MARK FOR STAIRS: Matt Stairs has been around long enough to collect 100 pinch hits. (Washington Post ) The longevity is probably more impressive, though. Stairs has played for 12 teams in 19 seasons. He's actually been a pretty good hitter for much of that journeyman career. His triple slash line (Average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage) is .263/.357/.480. That gives him an OPS-plus of 118.
THROWBACKS: The Dodgers and Cubs played a game in some really nice throwback uniforms Wednesday. Here is a post that tells you far too much about the uniforms. (Uniwatchblog.com )
TAKES ONE TO KNOW ONE: It's no secret Mike Stanton has some serious power. Consider Mark McGwire impressed after having seen Stanton up close. "Power hitters are born. He's just a born home run hitter," McGwire said after noting that Stanton is so talented he can play for "the next 25 years if he likes." High praise from a former basher himself (and keep the snickers to a minimum, please). Oh, and this was all said before Wednesday night when Stanton's bomb buried the Cardinals. (Miami Herald )
WHITHER WORLEY: Vance Worley is 2-0 with a 0.75 ERA and 12 strikeouts in 12 innings through two starts for the Phillies. Of course, he's about to have no spot in the rotation once Joe Blanton returns from the disabled list. You can't exactly bump Halladay or Cliff Lee or Cole Hamels or Oswalt. Blanton is firmly entrenched as the fifth starter, too. Philly.com takes a look at why it's OK for Worley to be sent back the minors and where he might fit if the club is inclined to keep him up with the big boys. One thing they didn't mention that I'd like to add is that maybe the Phillies could deal Blanton for a bat at some point? Some team is sure to get desperate for pitching at the trade deadline and the Phillies are going to need offense more than pitching at that point. Worley could slide in as a fine five for now.
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Posted on: May 1, 2011 1:43 am
Edited on: May 1, 2011 1:51 am
By Evan Brunell
James Shields, Rays -- Shields delivered a dominating performance and may be on the way back towards being an ace. However, Shields is an inconsistent player, so we'll have to see how he performs more. Still, he twirled a beautiful start against the Angels, going eight strong with an eyebrow-raising 12 strikeouts against one walk, six hits and an earned run. He combined to strike out the first three batters of the game six times, holding them to 1 for 13 with a walk. This game pushes Shields' ERA down to 2.14.
Roy Halladay, Phillies -- What else do you expect? Halladay rivaled Shields for best pitching performance as he pitched a complete game seven-hitter, allowing a walk and punching eight out. The Mets -- especially Jason Bay in an 0-for-4 night with three whiffs -- were helpless as Philly squeaked out a 2-1 victory. That offense is starting to run a little cold in Philadelphia, who were lifted by reserve outfielder John Mayberry Jr.'s first home run of the year plus a sac fly by Placido Polanco. Carlos Beltran did have two hits, continuing a nice return from knee problems.
Michael Brantley, Indians -- The league's best hitting performance that also directly won the game for Cleveland by Brantley, who sparked the team to victory by first tying the game at two-all in the sixth by ripping a solo home run and then scoring the winning run on an Orlando Cabrera single. All in all, the leadoff man who was playing center as Grady Sizemore took a breather, stepped up to the plate with a 3-for-6 night (so did Cabrera), scoring those two runs and driving in himself on the homer to edge the Tigers 3-2. Top Indians pitching prospect Alex White got throw his start by throwing six innings and allowing just two runs despite coughing up four walks and six hits -- two home runs -- and whiffing four.
Matt Thornton, White Sox -- Ozzie Guillen must be furious. In his house, that is, as he was suspended two games for his comments about the umpiring earlier in the week and then tweeting about it. Matt Thornton was called in by bench coach Joey Cora to keep the ChiSox in the game as they trailed 2-1 in the eighth. Phil Humber had a two-run, seven-inning start, calling into question whether he should be demoted when Jake Peavy returns. Against the Orioles, Thornton went as such: single, stolen base, strikeout plus Pierzynski error allowing a run to score and batter to reach, single, wild pitch, walk, infield RBI single, sacrifice fly, and -- that was it for Thornton as Jerry Gray sandwiched two outs around a hit by pitch. Not a good day at the park for Chicago's closer at the beginning of the season who has already lost his job.
Red Sox offense -- What can the Red Sox offense do for you? Well, it can mount a seven-hit attack on Doug Fister, walk six times, and ... leave 11 men on base in a 2-0 defeat. Awesome. David Ortiz want 0-for-4 with two whiffs, coming up in a key situation that could have changed the complexion of the game. The Red Sox left the bases loaded in the first (yes, really) and fourth, with Jacoby Ellsbury ending the threat in the fourth by getting doubled off second in a mistake. Oh, and no Mariners game is complete without a Milton Bradley ejection. The mercurial outfielder delivered a RBI double in the second to send Seattle up 1-0 then argued with the second base umpire about a play in which Miguel Olivo grounded to first and got the heave-ho. Skipper Eric Wedge was in the process of leaving the field after mounting his own complaint, but he didn't get tossed.
Kyle Drabek, Blue Jays -- Drabek got a little lesson in humility Saturday night, lasting just 2 1/3 innings. Drabek has been a bit up and down in his first full major-league season, but was still doing decently enough. Now his ERA rests at 4.45 after giving up five runs on seven hits, four walks and four strikeouts against the Yankees. He was dinked to death, but those runs count and can be even more deflating than a single big blow. You can attribute giving up a grand slam to one misplaced pitch, but you can't justify any of your stuff when everything is being rifled. Oddly enough, no Yank had more than one hit, but everyone did sans Derek Jeter (all together: when will he be demoted to No. 8 in the lineup? -- hey, look a reunion of the top two in the order from last season... at the bottom).For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Tags: AL East, Alex White, Angels, Blue Jays, Carlos Beltran, David Ortiz, Derek Jeter, Doug Fister, Indians, Jacoby Ellsbury, Jake Peavy, James Shields, Jason Bay, Jerry Gray, Joey Cora, John Mayberry, Jorge Posada, Jr., Kyle Drabek, Mariners, Matt Thornton, Mets, Michael Brantley, Miguel Olivo, Milton Bradley, Orioles, Orlando Cabrera, Ozzie Guillen, Phil Humber, Phillies, Pierzynski, Rays, Red Sox, ROy Halladay, Tigers, White Sox, Yankees
Posted on: April 24, 2011 11:18 pm
By C. Trent Rosecrans
Derek Jeter, Yankees -- I often wonder how long can you keep saying, "It's still early." I think when an everyday player can raise his average .046 points in one day, it's still early. That's what Jeter did on Sunday with his 4-for-6 performance against the Orioles. Jeter notched his second extra-base hit of the season, a second-inning double and added an RBI single in the 11th inning. He still doesn't look like the captain of old, and his .257/.317/.284 line isn't anywhere near looking like Minka Kelly, but it's better than the .221/.289/.235 line he brought to Sunday's dance. He also moved up the all-time hit list, past Frank Robinson for 30th overall with 2,945.
Red Sox pitching -- John Lackey's eight-inning performance was just the latest great start for Boston hurlers. Boston completed its sweep of the Angels with a 7-0 win in Anaheim on Sunday, marking the team's first back-to-back shutouts since June, 2007. Boston has now won eight of nine, with Red Sox starters going 7-1 with a 0.88 ERA during that string. The Angels' only runs off a Red Sox starter in the four games (and 30 innings by Red Sox starters) was Torii Hunter's seventh-inning homer off Josh Beckett on Thursday night.
Roy Halladay, Phillies -- As Matt pointed out the other day, the Padres didn't stand much of a chance against Halladay following his bad performance earlier in the week. While Wade LeBlanc performed well for the Padres, he couldn't match Halladay, who went 8 2/3 innings, allowed five hits and one run, matching his career-best with 14 strikeouts.
White Sox offense -- Chicago's lost 10 of 11 and scored three or fewer runs in all 11 games. In those 11 games, the White Sox are hitting just .193/.256/.282 with seven home runs, with more strikeouts (76) than hits (69). Adam Dunn is struggling as much as anyone, hitting .098/.213/.195 since coming back from his appendectomy.
Carlos Zambrano, Cubs -- The Cubs' right-hander allowed five runs in the first inning on Sunday and had his streak of 11 consecutive victories halted. However, on the positive side, Zambrano didn't blow up after a rough start as he has in the past, settling down and giving up just one more run in his remaining four innings.
Mariano Rivera, Yankees -- Rivera blew his second straight save opportunity -- and if not for a good defensive job by right fielder Nick Swisher, second baseman Robinson Cano and catcher Russell Martin, it would have lost the game. After a rain delay in extra innings, the Yankees were able to pick up Rivera and score three in the 11th for a victory.For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: April 19, 2011 10:05 pm
By Matt Snyder
Tuesday night, Roy Halladay didn't have his good stuff. Hey, it happens, even to the best of 'em -- and I'd argue Doc is the best pitcher in baseball. He exited with two outs in the seventh inning, having allowed 10 hits, two walks and six earned runs with only three strikeouts. His ERA rose all the way up to 2.83 (gasp!). The Brewers got the better of him and handed him his first loss.
Halladay's next scheduled start is Sunday at San Diego. If you were ever going to wager -- for entertainment only, of course -- on a shutout, no-hitter or even perfect game, Halladay on Sunday's one of the most sure bets you'll have all year.
First of all, Petco Park is one of -- if not the -- biggest pitcher-friendly parks in the majors. Secondly, the Padres' offense is probably the worst in the majors. Only the injury/flu-riddled Twins have scored less runs and have a lower slugging percentage. The Padres are also last in batting average.
And then there's this: Last season, Halladay gave up five or more earned runs five times. In the outings following those five, he was outstanding. Here's the line: 4-1, 42 innings, 23 hits, three earned runs, two walks, 41 strikeouts, 0.64 ERA and 0.60 WHIP. One of those outings was a three-hit shutout. Another was a perfect game.
I'm not going to go as far as to predict a perfect game Sunday, but I'll say this: I'll be surprised if he doesn't spin a shutout.
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Posted on: March 11, 2011 6:04 pm
Edited on: March 11, 2011 6:29 pm
By Evan Brunell
Now that Charlie Manuel is in the books with a two-year extension, the Phillies are turning to Ruben Amaro, the GM that has steered the club to two consecutive playoff berths after replacing Pat Gillick. Philly.com reports that Amaro's own extension is "lacking just the finishing touches."
That begs the question: what has been Amaro's best and worst moves to date? For all of the machinations that Amaro has done -- some of which were head-scratching -- it's impressive that there were a litany of candidates for Amaro's best moves, but aside from one painfully obvious move, none of his worst moves are truly terrible.
1. Welcome to Philadelphia, Cliff Lee! (And welcome back.)
At the trade deadline of 2009, Ruben Amaro pulled off a trade that cemented Philadelphia as a team to be feared. Lacking a clear ace, Lee predictably became a monster in the NL and helped lead Philadelphia to a second straight NL pennant. While Lee would be traded in the offseason (we'll get back to this), the impact he had on the club was immeasurable.
Even better is that Ben Francisco came along for the ride and provided an excellent bat off the bench as backup outfielder -- and now may be poised to open the year as the starting right fielder after a hot spring. In fact. Francisco may make this deal look even better if and when he finally settles in as a full-time player. Don't forget that he received a ton of playing time in Cleveland and showed he was capable of being a solid starter.
All the club gave up was Carlos Carrasco, Lou Marson, Jason Knapp and Jason Donald. Carrasco looks like a fungible back-of-the-rotation pitcher while Marson shows no aptitude for hitting and figures to have a lengthy career as a backup catcher -- not a player to miss. Donald, meanwhile, has been getting all the playing time he can handle and doesn't look any better than a second-division starter best used as a utility player. Knapp could be the player that pays the deal off for Cleveland, but even he's in doubt with his checkered injury history.
Also counted in this category is bringing Lee back to town. While trading Lee to the Mariners ended up being a mistake, every ounce of credit is deserved by Amaro for being unafraid to tactically admit a mistake. After claiming Lee simply wanted too much to resign, they bounced him to Seattle and then opened the checkbook to bring him back and got a steal by convincing Lee to ink a five-year deal. While the average annual value of the deal is higher as a result (with a total value of $120 million), the Phillies did very well to only lock themselves into five years.
2. What's up, Doc?
Amaro wasn't done spinning blockbuster deals for starting pitchers, as he would bring in Roy Halladay five months later to be the new anchor of the team. All Halladay did in his first NL season was toss a perfect game against the Marlins and stifle the Reds during Game 1 of the NLDS with a no-hitter. He nailed down a Cy Young Award with a 2.44 ERA in 250 2/3 innings, posting a Lee-ian 7.30 BB/K ratio. In addition, Halladay did so while agreeing to a three-year, $60 million pact with a fourth-year option. Philadelphia had told Halladay they did not want to go beyond three guaranteed years, something they clearly changed their mind on with Lee, but regardless, they locked Doc up to a sweetheart of a deal.
So why does this rank below Lee? Simple: This time around, Amaro gave up a pretty decent package to snag Halladay. Kyle Drabek has already made his major-league debut and there is already talk of Drabek hitting 200 innings pitched in his first full season once 2011 rolls around. You can't project Drabek to be another Halladay, but the Jays did well to get a replacement for the top of the rotation. They also snagged outfielder Michael Taylor who was sent to Oakland for Brett Wallace. While Taylor bombed in Triple-A for the A's, he still remains a solid prospect worth watching. Wallace would later be dealt to Houston for center fielder Anthony Gose, a player the Jays had tried to get included in the Halladay deal that Amaro shipped away in the Roy Oswalt trade. Lastly, Toronto netted Travis D'Arnaud, who ranked No. 61 on CBSSports.com's Top 100 Prospects list and could be Toronto's catcher for a very long time.
But make no mistake about it: the Halladay deal was fantastic for Philadelphia, especially because Amaro clearly recognized the window of opportunity for Philadelphia to win was now, with well-established players capable of winning a World Series. Sure, these players Amaro dealt away could have helped the Phillies extend their winning window, but there are no guarantees of the future, plus Philadelphia still improbably has a strong farm system after decimating it in the Lee, Halladay and Oswalt trades.
3. Signing Chan-Ho Park
Yes, I couldn't think up a clever title for this one. But signing Park to a one-year, $2.5 million deal ended up paying off big time when Park was finally convinced to vacate the rotation in favor of the bullpen. By the time the South Korean arrived in Philadelphia, he had been a top starter for the Dodgers, a massive bust who made millions of dollars in Texas, rebuilt his value in San Diego, missed an entire year as a member of the Mets, then returned to L.A. and turned heads with his production out of the bullpen.
However, Park still wanted to start. Amaro granted his wish, but after seven disastrous starts in which Park put up a 7.29 ERA, he was exiled to the bullpen where he instantly became a weapon. In 50 relief innings, Park went on to whiff 52 and walk 16 while posting a 2.52 ERA. Unfortunately, that would be Park's only (so far) season in Philly as he insisted on another crack at the rotation. He would eventually go to the Yankees where he experienced bad luck, then returned to his strong self as a reliever in the nether regions known as Pittsburgh. Park will pitch in Japan for the 2011 season where, presumably, he will get his wish to start.
It may have just been one year, but the production Amaro received out of Park was invaluable in the march to the NL pennant. Not all successful moves are of the blockbuster variety. In many cases, it's the smaller, unheralded pieces that end up being crucial.
1. He did WHAT?
Yes, Ruben Amaro signed Ryan Howard to a massive five-year, $125 million deal in April, virtually a full two years before the deal will kick in. Who thought this was a good idea?
Howard was a fantastic player before 2010, but was entering his age-30 year. As someone who had a late start to his career and doesn't appear that he can hold up well thanks to old-people skills (tied up in walks and power), any slippage of Howard's power reduces his value significantly.
And that's what happened in 2010, as he hit "just" 31 home runs and 23 doubles. But hey, five triples. Howard will begin his massive deal at age 32, and it's hard to fathom anyone giving him five years and $125 million as a 32-year-old, even if he rebounds with a strong year. In addition, it's not as if Philadelphia got a discount. They could have easily waited a year and then locked Howard into the deal. This was just completely unnecessary and will unfortunately become known as a disastrous deal.
2. Driving off a Cliff (Lee)
Yes, Cliff Lee is Amaro's 1 and 1A best moves of his tenure, but trading Lee away continues to be a head-scratcher, doubly so given Lee's return as a free agent. Of course, hindsight is 20/20, so what was the issue at the time?
Simply put, Lee was expected to command a huge extension and the overtures that Amaro/Philadelphia made were rebuffed. It doesn't appear that any thought was given to a deal that eventually ended up bringing Lee back, but that's purely speculation. What we do know is that the price Lee was thought to be commanding influenced the trade. In addition, Amaro wanted to restock the farm system after the initial Lee and Halladay deal.
But that's where he went off course, agreeing to import Phillippe Aumont, Tyson Gillies and J.C. Ramirez for Lee. And simply put, none of these players appear to have the ceiling of the prospects Philly surrendured to get Lee. Aumont is a reliever who may never reach the majors, Gillies is a speedster with a questionable bat and questionable off-field issues and Ramirez is a mildly intriguing prospect. This is one trade that, from the day it was consummated (not unlike the Howard contract) was panned, and not just because of the concept behind the deal, but the return as well.
3. Jumping the gun on Ibanez
When Raul Ibanez was inked to a three-year, $31.5 million pact the day after Christmas of 2008, many didn't quite understand the deal, but it wasn't thought to be terrible. That changed quickly, as that was the offseason that the market corrected itself and many players were frozen out until well into the new year. If Ibanez had waited just a couple more weeks, he would have easily seen his market drop to no more than two guaranteed years, and it's unlikely he could have commanded $10 million per year.
Ibanez kicked off 2009 with an absolutely silly .309/.367/.649 mark in 289 plate appearances, but upon returning from a left groin strain, it was an entirely different year as Ibanez finished the drive with a .232/.326/.448 line, but he ended up with a ring. Last season, Ibanez continued where he left 2009 off, finishing with a .275/.349/.444 mark and 16 home runs -- lowest since 2004, when he also had 16, and also his lowest as a full-time starter. Couple that with his defense and inability to hit left-handed pitchers and Ibanez isn't quite living up to his deal as he enters the final year.
However, this is one deal that stood up better than most expected when it was signed. And if this is only Amaro's third worst move, he's doing fairly well. But that Howard contract...
Posted on: March 10, 2011 5:31 pm
By C. Trent Rosecrans
Check out the Doc's shiner!
"It came at my chest and I tried to block it," Halladay told reporters (via the News Journal). "It was self defense."
It didn't seem to bother him on the mound. Thursday he went six innings against the Yankees, allowing four hits and striking out two. He hasn't given up a run in 11 innings and three starts this spring.For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.