Tag:Astros
Posted on: September 16, 2011 6:41 pm
Edited on: September 16, 2011 7:02 pm
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Cubs-Astros ending shows need for more replay

By C. Trent Rosecrans

It was a meaningless game at Wrigley Field on Friday, but it highlighted once again the need for expanded replay.

Here's the scene, bases loaded, one out in the 12th inning. Chicago's Marlon Byrd hits a chopper down the third-base line, a charging Chris Johnson looks to field the ball, but it bounces off his glove just after taking a short hop apparently in foul territory. Third-base umpire David Rackley is on the line and has the best view of the play, calling it a fair ball.

Watch the play here. 

If Johnson touches the ball in fair territory, Starlin Castro scores and the game is over. If it's in foul territory, Astros reliever David Carpenter has a 1-1 count on Byrd. Rackley called the ball fair, although on the replay there's at least reason to question it. 

There wasn't a great camera angle on the play, but it seems like it bounced foul -- and was going foul -- just before it hit Johnson's glove. Expanded replay could add more cameras to the field, especially on the foul lines, there's certainly money for it in MLB and can even add to the telecasts. Or you could even use the technology that tennis uses in the majors that can help decide close line calls.

In the end, the most important thing is getting the call right -- and once again it appears MLB umpires didn't. Let it be noted, though, it was an incredibly tough call and I see what Rackley saw (chalk coming up on its previous bounce). I'm not blaming him. It's as tough of a call as there is out there, but he should have the chance to make the correct call with every tool at his disposal.

Part of the blame should go to Johnson, who wasn't going to get Castro at home, nor Byrd at first. If he lets the ball go, it likely rolls foul. But like with Rackley, it was a bang-bang play and a very quick decision was needed, it's just that an umpire's call can be reversed and made right, a player's error is part of the game. In the end, there is a chance to make everything right, and we're at the point that technology allows that and we should use it.

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Posted on: September 14, 2011 9:46 am
 

Pepper: Writing on wall for Guillen



By Matt Snyder


Is there any question this is Ozzie Guillen's last season as the White Sox manager? I'd say no.

The latest report is that Guillen emailed White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf two weeks ago and texted general manager Kenny Williams Tuesday morning. He received replies from neither (Chicago Sun-Times). Granted, I've never been a major-league manager (I'm willing to give it a shot, if any GMs are interested), but I'm gonna go ahead and guess that being ignored when trying to correspond with your bosses is a pretty bad sign.

Remember, in recent weeks Guillen said he wanted to stay in Chicago, but not without a contract extension. And there was a report that indicated the relationship between Guillen and Williams had been irreparably damaged.

Guillen said he's ready for anything.

‘‘My family is ready for everything,’’ he said Tuesday (Chicago Sun-Times). ‘‘It’s like when a hurricane is coming and they say, ‘Hey, it’s Venezuela now, and it’s going to be in Miami in seven days.’ We pack everything, we have everything set up, for good or for bad.’’

The two cities he used in his example aren't just gathered at random. Venezuela is his home country. He also owns a home in Miami, but ... what else is there? Why, the Marlins, of course. A team Guillen helped coach to the 2003 World Series championship before being hired by the White Sox as manager. It's also a ballclub that is said to covet Guillen and is looking for a new manager this offseason before moving into a nice, new home.

It makes too much sense, doesn't it?

Tempers (kind of) flare in L.A.: So Dodgers reliever Hong-Chih Kuo threw an errant (and it appeared accidental) pitch near the head of Diamondbacks outfielder Gerardo Parra. And then Parra hit a home run and took his sweet old time starting his home run trot. And then Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis said a few words as Parra crossed the plate -- he looked more annoyed than angry, for whatever it's worth. A few Dodgers and Parra yelled back and forth while it appeared D-Backs manager Kirk Gibson said a few things, too, but then benches were warned and nothing else happened. I have to say, I'm with Ellis on this. I was watching live and sitting here thinking that it's just lame. Enough with the posturing. Play baseball.

Exit strategy? Potential new Astros owner Jim Crane has yet to be approved, even though it should have happened back in August. The approval process has been continually delayed and there are two separate camps of reports as to what the holdup is. One side says that Crane needs to accept a move to the American League West -- which would clear the way for season-long interleague play and likely an additional playoff team -- and the other says that this is not the specific holdup. Biz of Baseball wonders if Crane is just seeking a way out without being turned away by the MLB due to character concerns that have been raised during the approval process. In other words, if he backs out and uses not wanting to move to the AL as his reason, he was never turned down and saves face.

Braun accountable, even in victory: "Tonight was not a pretty game ... We didn't play well ... I think I probably played my worst 10 innings of baseball of the year ... I don't think we really deserved to win ... we really didn't play a good basball game." Those quotes are all cherry-picked from Ryan Braun's post-game comments (Brewers Blog). Oh, by the way, Braun hit a walk-off home run to win the game in the 11th. And in the parts of the above quotes I removed, Braun was saying to give all the credit to the pitching staff for keeping them in the game (the final score was 2-1). We're big fans of accountability here, so major points to Braun for not forgetting the rest of the game just because the team pulled out a victory. He could have easily only focused on being the hero in the 11th, instead he owned up to playing poorly for most of the night and instead wanted the pitchers to be viewed as the heroes of the game. That's an MVP teammate. While we're here, CBSSports.com's Scott Miller has a great feature on the Brewers. Check it out.

Great day for stat-heads: SeamHeads.com has now finished work on a Negro League database, so you can search for stats from players like Oscar Charleston, who by many accounts was one of the best players to ever play the game -- he just never had a chance to do so on the big stage due to unfortunate bigotry.

Mauer understands backlash: Joe Mauer has made quite a few commercials in the past few years and he has received some criticism over them during this season -- easily the worst of his career. He said that he understands this and he's not going to take on any more commercials for the time being (StarTribune.com).

Some "Moneyball" reviews: Here's a glowing review of the upcoming movie ... and here's a not-so-great review (he does say it's entertaining, just questions the direction taken). While I greatly respect the work of both writers, I don't really care what anyone says. I'm seeing it. If I don't like it, that's on me. 

St. Louis North? The Chicago Sun-Times floats a rumor that has the Cubs landing Reds' general manager Walt Jocketty -- who used to be the Cardinals' GM -- and then bringing Tony La Russa to manage the Cubs ... and then signing free-agent-to-be Albert Pujols. Of course, the report only said "could" and mentioned it was a scenario floated only on the Cubs' end, not mentioning whether or not all three parties would be interested in this. I personally think I have a better shot at winning the lottery than this happening.

No surgery for Dickey: Mets starting pitcher R.J. Dickey has suffered from a partially torn plantar fascia most of the season, but it has subsided enough that he won't need surgery this offseason. (MLB.com)

Happy Anniversary: On this day 25 years ago, Bo Jackson launched his first career home run ... all 475 feet of it. Also, Hall of Famer Hank Greenberg made his major-league debut 81 years ago and on this day in 2008, Carlos Zambrano threw his only career no-hitter. If you'll recall, it was a game in Milwaukee against the Houston Astros, as a hurricane moved the series. (Hardball Times)

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Posted on: September 13, 2011 1:38 am
Edited on: September 13, 2011 9:06 am
 

3 Up, 3 Down: Rays streak to win, Francisco bombs

Zobrist

By Evan Brunell

B.J. Upton and Ben Zobrist, Rays: Zobrist (pictured) helped propel the Rays to three games behind Boston for the wild card, ripping a double and driving in three. His three-hit night lifted his overall line to .274/.356/,464, strong numbers anywhere but especially powerful from a second baseman, notwithstanding that Zobrist can also fill in elsewhere in a pinch, making him tremendously valuable. Upton, meanwhile, doubled twice and received two jwalks, setting a franchise record by reaching in nine straight appearances. He struck out in the eighth to snap the streak.

Juan Francisco, Reds:  Francisco hammered a 502-foot home run off of the Cubs' Rodrigo Lopez, the first time a ball has ever been hit completely out of the park over the right-field bleachers, landing on the southern sidewalk of Mehring Way. It's the second-longest ever hit at the park, second to Adam Dunn's 535-footer in 2004 off of the Dodgers' Jose Lima, which went out over the bullpen and bounced into the river, technically into another state as the river belongs to Kentucky. Oh, the rest of game? Francisco went 2-for-4 as the third baseman in a 12-8 loss.


Brett Myers, Astros:
Myers stupified his former team of Philadelphia, who were also returning ex-Astros in Roy Oswalt and Hunter Pence. While Oswalt got roughed up, Myers went eight strong, allowing just one run while walking one and striking out four. A nice debut season last year with Myers earned him an extension, but he's regressed this year. He's come around as of late and has a 4.52 ERA on the season and is a prime candidate to be traded this offseason.



Dontrelle Willis, Reds: The D-Train had walked at least five batters in three straight starts coming into Monday's game. He paid for it against the Cubs, lasting just 3 1/3 innings as he was teed off for eight runs, walking three and whiffing zero. It was a massive dose of reality for the lefty, who had enjoyed a brief run of success mixed in with luck. His ERA is all the way up to 5.04 after coming in with a 4.10 ERA at the beginning of the month.

John Danks, White Sox: It was a bad night in a season of disappointment for Danks, who has been consistently good the last three seasons, but seemed like he could break out this season. Instead, he's regressed. After Monday's stinker, his ERA is now 4.36, the highest since his rookie season of 2007 when he had an unsightly 5.50 ERA. Danks gave up eight runs, seven earned, in five inningsm walking three and striking out five, allowing two home runs to the Tigers, who won their 10th straight. "I don't know if there is hotter team out there right now," Danks told the Associated Press. "It's embarrassing but at the same time you have to realize how good they're playing."

Mike Trout, Angels:  Trout had been making noise lately, riding a hot streak into more playing time and optimism. But he's still just 20, and his bat has cooled as of late. The sky is the limit for Trout, but he was exposed on Monday night by striking out three times in four hitless trips to the plate, dropping his overall line to .220/.282/.420 in an even 100 at-bats. Trout may or may not start the season with the Angels, but he will absolutely be a rock in that lineup for years to come. This night is just the early struggles of a blossoming star.

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Posted on: September 12, 2011 5:40 pm
 

On Deck: Rivera looks for 600th save

OD

By C. Trent Rosecrans


Follow all games live with CBSSports.com's GameTracker.

Mariano RiveraOne Mo for 600: Remember when Derek Jeter's last 20 hits were breathlessly followed? It seemed like his every step was chronicled and he was fawned upon for becoming the latest member of the admittedly elite 3,000 hit club. And much of the backlash was about how it was reported that way just because it was a Yankee player. You know, it may have more to do with Jeter's popularity than the uniform. On Sunday, Mariano Rivera recorded his 599th career save and he's now just one save from becoming only the second player to ever get to 600 saves. He's two from tying the career save mark and he's three from holding it outright, unseating Trevor Hoffman. I get that a lot of the difference is about the save stat and its worthiness and its relative youth as an official statistic, but it still seems interesting that more isn't being made of one of the all-time greats getting so close to setting a record like that. Or maybe everyone just assumed he already held the record. Yankees at Mariners, 10:10 p.m. ET

Roy OswaltHunter PenceFamiliar faces: Philadelphia's Roy Oswalt and Hunter Pence will be on familiar ground tonight as both make their first appearances at Minute Maid Park in a non-Astros uniform. Oswalt was traded to Philadelphia last season and Pence this season. Both have stepped up their game in Philadelphia, as Oswalt is 14-9 with a 2.88 ERA in his 19 starts with the Astros, while he was 6-11 with a 3.37 ERA in his last 19 starts with the Astros. Pence was liked in Houston, but in his short time in Philadelphia he's become beloved. In 38 games with the Phillies, he's hitting .320/.393/.551 with eight home runs and 24 RBI . He had 11 homers in 100 games for the Astros, while hitting .308/.356/.471. Houston can only hope neither of those two have the success that another form Astro has had in Houston -- Lance Berkman has hit .480/.519/1.160 with five homers in six games at Minute Maid Park this season and .429/.484/1.036 in eight games total against Houston. It's only fitting that former Phillie Brett Myers is on the hill for Houston. Phillies at Astros, 8:05 p.m. ET

Home sweet home: The Braves are coming off a 2-6 road trip that saw the team lose four games in the Wild Card standings to the Cardinals. The Braves are 44-28 at Turner Field this season, the third-best home record in the National League. Atlanta has nine of its final 15 games at home, while St. Louis plays 10 of its 16 remaining games on the road. The Braves will need another good start from rookie right-hander Brandon Beachy against Florida on Monday. Beachy allowed just two hits and a run in 5 2/3 innings against Philadelphia on Sept. 7, but picked up a no-decision when Atlanta's usually dominant bullpen gave up runs in the eighth and ninth innings of a 3-2 loss. Beachy's 1-0 with a 3.26 ERA in three starts against the Marlins this season, striking out 24 in 19 1/3 innings, but also walking 10. Marlins at Braves, 7:10 p.m. ET

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Posted on: September 12, 2011 4:19 pm
Edited on: September 12, 2011 5:17 pm
 

How blockbusters explain Manager of the Year

Kirk Gibson

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Joe Posnanski of Sports Illustrated came up with what he calls the "Movie Plus-Minus" -- it's a stat he uses to rank movies. It's simply this: how much he expected to like a movie versus how much he actually liked a movie. It's how a good movie can still be seen as bad, because expectations were too high -- or how a bad movie can actually be good. Anyway it's all about the expectations in judging the experience, if you don't expect much and it turns out to be good you have a more favorable impression than maybe a movie that you expect to be pretty good and turns out to be about what you expected, even if that movie is much better in a vacuum.

That's exactly how it seems that the Manager of the Year Award in baseball is awarded. Manager of the Year is usually an easy formula:

(Wins) - (Expected wins) = MoY total.

The highest number of MoY gives you the hardware.

Last year nobody expected anything out of the San Diego Padres, yet they nearly won their division. So little was expected that it didn't even matter that the Giants won the division or the Padres piddled away a lead at the end, they were in it and that was enough for the voters to make Bud Black the winner. In the American League, Terry Francona may have done his best managing in 2010, but because he finished third and the Red Sox are expected to make the playoffs every year, he finished fourth in the voting with no first-place votes. Instead it was Ron Gardenhire, followed by Ron Washington and Joe Maddon.

The likely winner in the National League this year? Well, that's easy. Kirk Gibson is going to be the overwhelming, perhaps unanimous, winner because nobody expected the Diamondbacks to contend, and here they are. Manny Acta and Maddon, whose teams were picked to make the playoffs by just about nobody, are frontrunners for this year's award in the American League.

So which managers scored high on the Movie Plus-Minus? Let's look at this summer's blockbusters and who their managerial equivalents:

Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson as Rise of the Planet of the Apes: In April, it sounded ridiculous -- another Plaent of the Apes reboot? Didn't anyone see Tim Burton's attempt? This was a bad idea. A horrible idea. And that's what it looked like in Arizona, where the team started the season with Armando Galarraga and Barry Enright in the rotation. How about Russell Branyan and Melvin Mora. Geoff Blum? But like Gibson, Apes director Rupert Wyatt made all the right moves, making the ridiculous exciting and harnessing the energy and genius of his enigmatic star (James Franco and Justin Upton). While it may not be the best movie or take home either an Oscar or a World Series title, it certainly had the highest Movie Plus-Minus and Gibson will take home some hardware, even if his team doesn't.

Brewers manager Ron Roenicke as X-Men: First Class: The franchise has had its hits, but stumbled in its last outing (X-Men: The Last Stand and 2010). Back with a new focus (the origin story for the movie and pitching for the Brewers), the movie not only lived up to tempered expectations, it exceeded them -- just like the Brewers. A thoroughly enjoyable season for the Brewers and a fun movie, both will be punished because there were decent expectations for the movie and the season, even if they delivered the goods. As a bonus, you can also use Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon to link X-Men First Class and Roenicke -- Roenicke manages Ryan Braun, who was in one of the world's worst commercials with Marissa Miller, who was on Entourage with Kevin Connolly, who was in Beyond All Boundaries with Bacon, the bad guy in X-Men: First Class.

Pirates manager Clint Hurdle as Green Lantern: Neither ended up being being good, but compared to expectations, it was an Oscar and a World Series. If you weren't scared off by the words "Ryan Reynolds as Hal Jordan", you certainly were when you heard about the CGI suit. Expectations were incredibly low, just as they were in Pittsburgh (and after 18 losing seasons, why not?). That said, there were some bright spots -- the suit wasn't anywhere near as bad as expected and there was a sort of tongue-in-cheek nod to superhero cliches in the movie, while Andrew McCutchen is a superhero himself. Both had a  decent quick start, but in the end, both suffered as time went on and some concepts (a ring given to some dude by an alien, or Kevin Correia as an All-Star), proved too ridiculous for anyone to fully get behind the movie -- or the Pirates. In the end, though, you'll remember it as "not that bad" even if the Pirates do record their 19th consecutive losing season, but Hurdle will likely have a positive MoY score.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi as Super 8: You figured it would be good -- it was from J.J. Abrams and Steven Spielberg, there was plenty of money behind it. Expectations are always high for the Yankees and neither Spielberg nor Abrams are strangers to hype. A solid leading man (Kyle Chandler, Derek Jeter) and surprising performances from others thrust into lead roles (the kids in the movie and the not-quite-kids like Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia in the Yankees' rotation), made it a great summer. While some expectations can never be met, the Yankees and Super 8 got the job done. Of course, rarely are awards given for merely meeting expectations.

Phillies manager Charlie Manuel as Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2: Everyone knew the story coming in -- Harry would defeat Voldemort and the trio of Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels would prove as unbeatable as the Elder Wand, the Resurrection Stone and Cloak of Invisibility. It was great fun to watch, but the source material was handed to director David Yates by J.K. Rowling, just as Ruben Amaro Jr. and Pat Gillick gave Manuel this pitching and roster. Dismissed as just a press-button manager or director, the film succeeded, but those charged with doing so will have their role in making it so diminished because the perception is that it would be difficult to screw up the hand that was dealt.

Giants manager Bruce Bochy as Cowboys and Aliens: An excellent cast, a director with a good track record, beloved source material and, well, in the end it wasn't a hit.

Astros manager Brad Mills as The Smurfs: You expected it to be bad, but maybe not this bad.

Now, it'll just be interesting to see if Moneyball lives up to Art Howe's managing.

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Posted on: September 11, 2011 11:46 am
Edited on: September 11, 2011 11:52 am
 

On Deck: Strasmas, McGowan, AL Wild Card race

OD

By Matt Snyder

It's September 11, 2011. Much smarter people than myself have written about today, but things other than baseball should certainly be somewhere in our minds. Ten years ago today was a rough one. Let's be happy for what we have and cherish life. When you do stumble back to baseball for entertainment -- and it's essential for maintaining sanity -- you can follow all the live action on CBSSports.com's scoreboard. For me, though, it feels like baseball takes a back seat to the 10-year anniversary of a day that was so horrible, yet brought us all together as one, big family.

Strasmas ... again: It's Strasmas in D.C. Phenom Stephen Strasburg (0-0, 0.00) will make his second start of the season Sunday for the Nationals, as they host the Astros. He worked five shutout innings Tuesday, allowing just two hits while striking out four. In his major-league career, Strasburg has a 2.71 ERA and 96 strikeouts in 73 innings. Expect him to work somewhere from four to six innings, depending upon how the pitch count falls. Henry Sosa (2-3, 4.11) takes the hill for the Astros, whose next loss will match a franchise-high 97 for the season. Astros at Nationals, 1:35 p.m. ET.

Dustin's Return: Blue Jays pitcher Dustin McGowan hasn't started a game in the majors since July 8, 2008, but he'll give it a go Sunday against the Orioles. He's had several surgeries -- two to his shoulder and one to his knee -- and a long road of rehab back, so it's difficult to not root for him. He allowed three runs in four relief innings earlier this week, but it feels like a clean slate in his start Sunday. Tommy Hunter (3-3, 5.28) takes the hill for the Orioles. Orioles at Blue Jays, 1:07 p.m. ET.

Sunday's Big Game: If the Rays beat the Red Sox, it will only be a 3 1/2 game lead for the Sox in the AL Wild Card race. And the Rays visit the Red Sox for a four-game series on their upcoming road trip. As if the stakes weren't high enough, two All-Stars take the mound. James Shields (14-10, 2.77) squares off against Jon Lester (15-6, 2.93). Last time the two started in the same game, the result was a 3-1 Red Sox win -- in which Shields only allowed a three-run homer to Jacoby Ellsbury in one of his major-league leading 11 complete games. Rays at Red Sox, 1:40 p.m. ET.

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Posted on: September 10, 2011 1:17 am
 

3 Up, 3 Down: Someone gets to Kimbrel



By Matt Snyder


Cardinals' late offense. I utterly refuse to put Craig Kimbrel in the "down" section for having his 37 2/3-inning scoreless streak broken, but it needs to be mentioned, so we're going to the Cardinals here for being the team to break it up. The Braves' rookie closer had not been scored upon since June 11 until Friday night. He had converted 25 straight saves in that time period. Friday, though, the Cardinals showed he was human. Skip Schumaker singled to open the ninth, following by a fielder's choice and strikeout. So it seemed like just another Kimbrel save. But then Rafael Furcal drew a walk. And then Ryan Theriot did the same. All of a sudden, the bases were loaded with two outs in the bottom of the ninth with a 3-1 Braves lead. Who walks to the plate? Why, Albert Pujols, of course. It's the type of matchup that makes baseball great. Power vs. power. One swing can end it for either side, or Kimbrel could sit Pujols down himself. Pujols ended up going down the first-base line for a base hit. It scored two to tie the game before Jason Heyward gunned the ball to second base. He would have had Pujols dead to rights -- as he tried for a double -- but then Theriot attempted to get home and the Braves nailed him instead to end the inning. Still, a Nick Punto sacrifice fly would win the game for the Cardinals next inning against Scott Linebrink. But the mighty Kimbrel had been exposed as a human being and that was the big news of the game. Let us all tip our caps to him for the very impressive scoreless innings streak.

Lonnie Chisenhall, Indians. Big night for the young third baseman, as he hit a two-run home run off Mark Buehrle ... twice. The Indians won 8-4. While the Tigers have run away with the AL Central, the Indians have seen enough from several young players, like Chisenhall, to consider this season a success to this point. It will be very intriguing to see the strides made in 2012.

Jeremy Guthrie, Orioles. Maybe the intervention helped? He said he'd start listening to Metallica, after all, so maybe Guthrie did and was fired up for the start Friday night. He shut out a good Blue Jays' offense for seven innings, allowing just three hits in a 2-0 Orioles victory. In the process, he lowered his season ERA to 4.29.



John Lackey, Red Sox. There might be a Wild Card race after all, as the Rays worked the Red Sox over, 7-2, Friday night. The biggest problem was Lackey. Again. This would be the perfect time for Lackey to step up and earn his gargantuan contract, considering the injuries in the Red Sox's starting rotation. Instead, Lackey went out and allowed five hits, three walks and five earned runs in just three innings. His ERA is now 6.30.

Joe Girardi, Yankees. Rough ninth for the skipper. He pinch ran for A-Rod with Eduardo Nunez, only to send Nunez on the exact pitch the Angels called for a pitchout. The result was Nunez being nailed at second with ease. Then Girardi went with Aaron Laffey and Luis Ayala on the hill in the ninth. The result was a 2-1 loss. On the bright side, the Yankees don't seem in any danger of missing the playoffs. Also, they were playing in their third city in three days. So, in and of itself, this wasn't a huge deal.

Jimmy Paredes, Astros. In the 11th inning, Paredes gave the Nationals a walk-off throwing error. With one out and runners on first and second, Paredes fielded a bouncing ball at third base and looked to at least get a force out at second -- if not an inning-ending double play. But he threw the ball into right field, which allowed Ryan Zimmerman to come around and score. The Astros have now lost 96 games. In the history of the franchise, they've never lost more than 97 in a season.

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Posted on: September 9, 2011 10:48 am
 

Pepper: Is Rivera's sucessor Robertson?

Robertson

By Evan Brunell

Mariano's successor? The other day, I read a piece suggesting that the Yankees could theoretically sign Jonathan Papelbon in the offseason, have him set up Mariano Rivera's final year in town and then take over.

It's possible. But it's more probably that Rivera's successor is already on the team, and I'm not talking about Rafael Soriano.

“There are a lot of similarities there in how they throw their fastballs,” catcher Russell Martin told the New York Post when asked to compare Rivera and setup man David Robertson, who has broken through in a big way this season with a 1.23 ERA in 58 1/3 innings, striking out 89 and walking 31. That ERA is unsustainably low, but speaks to the impact the righty has had in the bullpen. Robertson is no Rivera -- who is? -- but those kind of strikeout numbers would work quite well in a closer's role. While Robertson walks a bit too much, that hasn't bothered other walk-prone closers such as Carlos Marmol, even if it increases the chances of an occasional blowup.

“Maybe that can happen a few years down the road,” Robertson said of replacing Rivera. “But I don’t have to worry about that. Mo’s not leaving. It would be cool to do [to be the closer]. But we have No. 42 and he ain’t leaving.”

Offended: Incoming Astros owner Jim Crane is "offended" by both the delay in being approved and the public perception of Crane -- especially when details of his divorce leaked out, invading his personal life. Crane also noted that his contract to buy the team expires on Nov. 30. (Houston Chronicle)

Power rankings: Four unlikely candidates to manage the Cubs top the latest power rankings on the subject. GMs Andrew Friedman, Billy Beane, Theo Epstein and Brian Cashman lead off the list that has a distinct Boston flavor to it. (Chicago Tribune)

No more I-Rod: Ivan Rodriguez likely won't catch for the remainder of 2011, as the Nats want to take a look at their future in Wilson Ramos and Jesus Flores. Rodriguez hopes to catch at least four more years. While that's a stretch, he should catch long enough to net hit No. 3,000 -- he's at 2,842. (Washington Post)

Doubles machine: Not only do Royals outfielders lead baseball in outfield assists by a wide margin, but each of them also has at least 39 doubles. That makes them the third team in baseball history to reach the feat, along with the 1998 Angels and 1932 Phillies. But both these teams had an outfielder with 39 doubles, with Melky Cabrera there already. So on his next one, the Royals will set history. Oh, and DH Billy Butler is two away from 40, so four players could reach the mark for K.C. That would be the fourth such time a team pulled that off. If they can all reach 42, it will be the first time ever a team has accomplished such a feat. (Rany on the Royals)

Braden shows up: Dallas Braden wasn't too keen on showing his face in the Oakland clubhouse after undergoing season-ending surgery in May, much to the chagrin of his teammates. GM Billy Beane interviewed and spoke to Braden, as the San Francisco Chronicle writes, leading to this quote from Braden on Beane's encouragement: "Makes you feel like less of a loser."

Alonso's story: Background stories about Cuban defectors always has two components: the harrowing departure from Cuba, plus how grateful the players are to be in the majors. Rather than being a cliche, it's a reminder of the challenges that one faces in life. Yonder Alonso is no exception, whose family bolted Cuba when he was 9 years old. (MLB.com)

More homers than walks: Prior to the season, 99 instances of 20-plus homers with less than 20 walks have occurred in baseball history. Now, eight are on pace to add to the total, with 50 coming since 1991 in further evidence how the game has changed and tilted toward power. Alfonso Soriano is on pace for his fourth such distinction, plus Mark Trumbo. Vernon Wells and J.J. Hardy both have the same amount of homers and walks, while Nelson Cruz, Adrian Beltre, Michael Morse and Adam Jones are threatening. (MLB.com)

Glad you left: Which teams are sick of seeing certain players? Here's a full list, led by Washington being crushed by Mike Stanton this season with a 1.087 slugging percentage. (The Hardball Times)

Too close: Baseball journalist Marcos Breton has admitted he grew too close to Miguel Tejada, which has given him unique perspective on his release instead of, as he put it, "[being] too harsh on some subjects for this column, and I promised myself to reflect on Tejada the next time someone stumbles publicly, as all of us will, when life inevitably brings us down to size." (Sacramento Bee)

Try, try again: Tim Wakefield will try yet again for win No. 200, currently slated to start Tuesday against the Blue Jays. (Providence Journal)

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