Tag:Carlos Zambrano
Posted on: April 19, 2011 1:24 am
Edited on: April 20, 2011 1:13 am
 

3 up, 3 down for 4/18: That's gold, Jerry

By Matt Snyder

3UP

Jerry Sands, Dodgers. Going 1-3 isn't exactly setting the world on fire, but Sands made an impact in his first major-league game. He doubled in his first at-bat and then hit a sacrifice fly next time up. The significance there is that the Dodgers had gotten just two RBI from left field all season, and Sands had needed two plate appearances to get halfway home. He made enough of an impact that Tim Hudson threw a pitch behind him next at-bat -- Ted Lilly retaliated next inning by doing the same to Nate McLouth and both benches were warned.

Felipe Lopez, Rays. Greeted with mass mockey in the Twitter world for being a cleanup hitter, Lopez quieted the critics for one night by going 3-4 with a double, home run, two runs and three RBI. He's raised his triple slash (batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage) lines to .316/.350/.553. And the Rays won, giving them a 6-1 record since that dreadful 1-8 start.

Kevin Correia, Pirates. Picked up off the scrap heap by the Pirates after a disastrous 2010 season, Correia hurled a complete game Monday against the division-leading Reds. He now has a 2.48 ERA through 29 innings. And don't look now, but the Pirates -- after having taken two of three from the Reds -- are only a game out. Of course, it's a four-way tie at 8-8, but still a game out and tied for second place. I'm sure Pirates fans will take it.

3DOWN

Esmil Rogers, Rockies. The 25 year old had gotten off to a nice start to 2011, sporting a 2.77 ERA through two starts. So much for that. He was absolutely torched by the Giants Monday night. In only three innings, Rogers allowed six hits, two walks and eight earned runs. In the first inning, he gave up back-to-back home runs to Pat Burrell and Nate Schierholtz -- the latter of which was a 450-plus foot moonshot to the upper tank. Needless to say, Rogers wasn't fooling anyone Monday.

Ricky Romero, Blue Jays. The pitching matchup seemed to favor the Jays, as Romero was the opening day starter and the Red Sox were running Dice-K out there. Instead, they seemed to reverse roles. Romero couldn't make it through five, giving up eight hits and five earned runs. The worst part, though, was Romero's lack of command. He walked five guys and it took 109 pitches just to complete 4 1/3 innings.

Win as a short-term stat. Carlos Zambrano, Tim Stauffer and Shaun Marcum combined to throw 21 scoreless innings, yet none of them came away with a win. Zambrano was especially impressive, working eight shutout innings and striking out 10 batters for the first time since his no-hitter in September of 2008. But, wait, he didn't get the win! Gimme a break.

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Posted on: March 18, 2011 3:25 pm
 

Zambrano likes hitting way too much

By Matt Snyder

It might be really entertaining to watch, and he might be one of the best hitting pitchers in baseball, but at some point Carlos Zambrano just needs to settle down and back away from the lumber.

The most recent movement on Z's everlasting quest to be this generation's Babe Ruth is that he took so much batting practice his left wrist is now wrapped. (Chicago Tribune )

And, of course, he's got a charity home run derby on the horizon.

I guess getting Big Z "cured" from his bad temper was the first step. Next up, his shrink needs to convince him that he's a pitcher.

A pretty good one at times, in fact.

From August 14 on last season, Zambrano was one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball. He went 8-0 with a minuscule 1.24 ERA. He's still only 29, so it's not out of the question for the three-time All-Star to pitch like he did in the past -- when he finished fifth in Cy Young voting three times.

He can also hit, which might cause a problem if he doesn't just settle down. He's won three Silver Sluggers. He's a career .236 hitter, which is excellent for pitchers. He has 21 career home runs. In 2008, he was actually productive enough to be considered good by position player standards -- hitting .337 with an .892 OPS. Last season, though, he was down to .231 with a .543 OPS.

Anything Zambrano gives the Cubs' offense in 2011 is obviously good, but it's gravy. A pitcher isn't expected to produce anything offensively other than the occaisional sacrifice bunt.

Look, it's OK to take batting practice. It's great to be enthusiastic. It's even better to want to help the team with the bat. But when you're doing so much work in the cage you have to wrap your wrist, maybe it's time to dial it back a notch.

Fortunately Cubs manager Mike Quade is using the designated hitter Friday for Zambrano's spring start. It's the right move.

After all, Zambrano is paid over $18 million a year to be a starting pitcher, not to hurt himself in the batting cage.

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Posted on: March 9, 2011 10:34 am
Edited on: March 9, 2011 10:48 am
 

Pepper: Davis finding his way



By Matt Snyder


Chris Davis may finally be ready.

In a straw poll of Rangers management, the Star-Telegram found Davis was easily the most impressive player thus far in camp. He's flashing power, hitting for a high average and playing solid defense. This follows a good season of winter ball, so it could be a harbinger of things to come in Texas.

We know the power he possesses. He hit 17 home runs in 295 at-bats in 2008 and then 21 in 391 in 2009. Of course, the problem is that his OBP deteriorated to a dreadful .284 in 2009 and his contact rate was embarrassing. He struck out 238 times in those two seasons -- which is a strikeout once in less than every three at-bats.

Most everything got worse last season. Davis hit only one home run in 120 at-bats. He struck out 40 times. He hit .192/.279/.571, good for a 54 OPS-plus.

The funny thing is, Davis has always destroyed minor-league pitching (.939 OPS) and is still only 24.

In terms of how the current Rangers roster is constructed, however, Davis may actually be blocked. Assuming Adrian Beltre is healthy and Michael Young doesn't get traded, there really isn't a spot. You've got Mitch Moreland at first base, Beltre at third, Young in the backup DH/1B/3B role and Mike Napoli also a DH who can fill in at first.

Maybe Davis gives the Rangers further incentive to offload Young? That might even mean eating a good portion of his remaining contract, but a powerful Chris Davis makes it easier to justify. That's just speculation, but it's entirely possible.

SOME TOMMY JOHN STATS: In an article about how the Reds are expecting Edinson Volquez to return to form this season, we're given a stat that 96 percent of the pitchers who undergo "Tommy John" surgery return to the same level of competition they were before the procedure. It makes sense. As long as the rehab and throwing programs are done properly, the newly inserted ligament should actually be stronger than the natural one was before the injury. This article notes that prior to injury, the ulnar-collateral ligament has likely been slowly deteriorated over time, so when the surgery happens, it's like a brand new ligament. There's a lot more interesting stuff in there, and it's a highly recommended click-through. (SI.com )

ON THE OTHER HAND:
Also in SI.com , Tom Verducci talked to a "leader in the field of pitching biomechanics," who said that Nationals phenom Stephen Strasburg has a problematic delivery. Specifically, the contention is that Strasburg lands his front foot too early in his pitching motion, which puts in undue amount of torque on both his elbow and shoulder. When you considering how hard he throws, that's an excessive amount of pressure on those two body parts. There is also a moment in his delivery, according to the article, where Strasburg's elbow raises higher than his hand -- which switches the order of how the kinetics of a pitching motion are supposed to happen. This, again, puts a ton of pressure on his elbow. Hey, don't shoot the messenger, Nationals fans. I'm just passing along the info.

ONLY IN THE SPRING: Spring is a slow news time. You've got injuries and positional battles, sure, but otherwise it's mostly meaningless at-bats and killing time looking ahead to the regular season. Thus, Chipper Jones garnered some fan fare for bringing back and old-school look a few weeks ago when he pulled the bottoms of his pants up to knee-high. Of course, this only worked for Chipper with low-top shoes and he wasn't comfortable. So he returned to high-tops and, with those, had to bring the pants back down to ankle-length. (Atlanta-Journal Constitution )

ONLY IN THE SPRING, PART II: The Rays had a longest drive contest. Yes, with golf clubs. The four finalists were Johnny Damon, Cesar Ramos, Andy Sonnanstine and B.J. Upton. Who ya got? Go check it out, as there is video. (TampaBay.com )

SAY WHAT? Try to figure out this quote: "I don't ignore them because I've got to answer them. But I ignore them." That comes courtesy of Cardinals manager Tony La Russa, who is frustrated that the MLB Network questioned his team's outfield defense -- even though he apparently ignores them, or doesn't. Whatever. Any defensive metric you see says the outfield defense for the Cardinals will be pretty atrocious. Matt Holliday is fine in left field, though not spectacular. According to Fangraphs.com's ultimate zone rating, only two center fielders were worse than Colby Rasmus last year, who is certainly better suited for a corner spot. In right, they've got Lance Berkman, who was moved to first base in Houston due to becoming too slow for the outfield. He's 35 and hasn't been completely healthy for a full season 2008. To all this, La Russa would likely give the same response he did to MLB Network, "What do people know about our outfield defense?" (St. Louis Post-Dispatch )

TALKIN' BASEBALL: Willie, Mickey and the Duke. Those words were immortalized in Talkin' Baseball , a song written in 1981 by Terry Cashman. With the recent passing of the Duke, Cashman looks back on writing the song. (MLB.com )

STILL COOL CARLOS: While one Carlos on the Cubs sparred with a teammate over an error this spring, Carlos Zambrano has been a saint in Cubs camp. Tuesday, a defensive miscue allowed the leadoff man on base, but Zambrano never batted an eye. Of course, he won't say he's a changed man -- even though he said earlier in camp he was "cured" -- "Nah, I'm the same, bro," he told reporters. (Chicago Sun-Times ) Really, it's not just the spring, though. Zambrano has been a different man since re-entering the rotation last August 9. He went 8-0 with 1.41 ERA and 60 strikeouts in 11 starts and hasn't had an issue with teammates or management. The guy we're seeing this spring isn't just being good because it's spring. It's a carry over. Of course, with Zambrano, things could turn at any moment.

MEETING THE CHAMP: The White Sox met with Muhammad Ali and his Athletes for Hope foundation Tuesday. He was given a No. 40 jersey with the "Champ" on back, instead of Ali. (Chicago Tribune )

TAKE A BOTTLE, DRINK IT DOWN, PASS IT AROUND: One of the best pastimes of baseball -- for fans, that is -- is having a frothy cold one at the ballpark. Big League Stew breaks down the top 10 beers available at major-league ballparks. If you prefer a simple domestic macrobrew, well, there's something for you in every stadium.

BRADLEY HEARING WEDNESDAY: There will be a private hearing with Milton Bradley, his wife and the Los Angeles City Attorney's Office to attempt to resolve their differences without taking any charges to criminal court. Bradley was arrested for alleged domestic violence and threats against his wife last month. (Seattle Times )

 

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Posted on: March 8, 2011 9:54 am
Edited on: March 8, 2011 11:09 am
 

Pepper: Paging Dr. Zambrano

Carlos Silva

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Either it's crazy or it makes perfect sense. And, in an upset, I'm going with the latter. 

After his second rough outing of the spring, Cubs starter Carlos Silva went to Carlos Zambrano for help.

Silva allowed 10 hits and eight runs in 2 1/3 innings on Monday, and his first instinct was to turn to his countryman.

"Right after I finished pitching, I texted Zambrano, and I was telling him, 'Man, I don't know what's going on,'" Silva told Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times. "What he told me in the text was, 'You just need to forget everything, go out there and pitch and do your thing. You know how to pitch, you did it before, so why can't you do it again.' It's true."

Silva was still frustrated, but he held back and punches this time, so there's progress.

It may seem crazy to go to Zambrano, but there are few people out there more uniquely suited to help Silva than his fellow Carlos. Both are from Venezuela, both have had trouble living up to high expectations and big contracts and both have had incidents with teammates in the dugout. But Zambrano has, at least in the last couple of months, shown signs of bouncing back. He's undergone anger management and worked hard just to get back into the Cub uniform. Sometimes when you're struggling, you just need to hear from someone who has been there. If anyone can find the right words for the talented Silva, it just may be Zambrano. And for now, it doesn't seem like it could hurt.

REMEMBERING CHRISTINA: The White Sox and Diamondbacks played an exhibition in Tucson on Monday to raise money on behalf of shooting victim Christina-Taylor Green.

Yahoo!'s Jeff Passan was there and passes on the moving story.

HAIRY BIRDS: Facial hair fans, it's time to celebrate -- the Orioles are relaxing their ban on the most manly of expressions, in response to Derrek Lee and Vladimir Guerrero desires to wear goatees.

Luke Scott and Nick Markakis are taking advantage of the new rules, as well. (Baltimore Sun)

CONFUSING CONCUSSIONS: Sometimes there's a story that just grabs me and I read everything that comes along about it. For the last couple of years for me, that's been concussions in sports.

The New York Times looks at how no two concussions are alike, using the examples of Justin Morneau and Josh Beckett.

While Beckett bounced back from his concussion last week, Morneau still isn't back.

NAME GAME: Looking for some puny fantasy baseball names? The Orange County Register has you covered, if just for its several Shin-Soo Choo puns. I'm one of those people that have the same name every year since I've been playing -- Royal Disappointment. And I've yet to not live up to my name.

LONEY RETURNS: James Loney was back on the field Monday after missing two days with a swollen left knee. He didn't play in the Dodgers' game, but could return to the lineup by Wednesday, manager Don Mattingly said. (MLB.com)

UTLEY TO OF? Phillies senior adviser Dallas Green thinks it might be wise to move Chase Utley from second base to help save his knees. The Philadelphia Daily News' Paul Hagan disagrees.

GOOD IMPRESSION: If you haven't heard of the Braves' Julio Teheran yet, you will. The top pitching prospect in baseball made his first appearance in a Grapefruit League game yesterday and hit 96 in a scoreless inning of work. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

HOT TICKET: The Marlins have sold out the Diamond Club section of their new ballpark for next season. Now, that's just 379 seats, but they're high-priced seats, so it doesn't exactly hurt.

The team says the highest-priced seats are selling well. (MLB.com)

NO BUENO: The blog itsabouthtemoney.net takes up the case to former Cardinals minor league shortstop Lainer Bueno who was suspended for the first 50 games of this season for testing positive for clenbuterol.

The blog notes it's possible Bueno tested positive for the drug because it is used in livestock and its possible that he ate meat in Venezuela that contained clenbuterol.

HALL OF FAME DEBATE: Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson is once again on the College Football Hall of Fame ballot. He's been on the ballot since 2007.

An All-American wide receiver at Michigan State, he led the Big Ten in receiving in league play and led the team to a co-championship in 1978. Gibson only played one season of baseball at Michigan State and was drafted in the first round of the baseball draft and seventh round of the NFL draft by the St. Louis Cardinals.

SPEAKING OF TWO-SPORT STARS: Former Hazelton (Penn.) High quarterback Joe Maddon invited Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Raheem Morris and two assistants to be his guests at the Rays' camp today.

Maddon said he'd like a chance to run the Bucs' scout team in practice. (St. Petersburg Times)

NG TO MLB: Dodgers vice president Kim Ng is reportedly leaving the team to join the home office of Major League Baseball under new vice president Joe Torre. (Los Angeles Times)

DEMOCRATIC CONCESSIONS: CNBC.com's Darren Rovell is asking readers to vote on the next great ballpark food and dessert -- and the winner from each category will be served at historic Grayson Stadium in Savannah, Ga., home of the Mets' Class A South Atlantic League affiliate, the Savannah Sand Gnats.

STATS TO GO: Baseball-Reference.com has beefed up its mobile site for use on your smart phone, so when you're not at home and you just have to know what George Brett's career slugging percentage is (.487), you know have hope.

SEVEN-MAN ROTATION: The Softbank Hawks of Japan's Pacific League are considering a seven-man rotation for this season. (YakyuBaka.com)


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Posted on: March 4, 2011 9:53 am
Edited on: April 18, 2011 12:29 pm
 

Pepper: Big Puma struggling through spring

Lance Berkman

By C. Trent Rosecrans

The Cardinals came out of the offseason sacrificing defense for offense, but that offense may have a hard time even getting on the field.

Lance Berkman, inked in as the team's right fielder going into the spring, was scratched from the team's lineup on Thursday because of a sore left calf. Berkman had already been limited to designated hitter work because of a bad left elbow.

It's just the first week of games, and Berkman has been limited to play in the field. On Thursday, Berkman told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch he was "perfectly fine" and would still go to Kissimmee, Fla., on Friday to face his old team, the Astros.

Friday morning, Berkman wasn't on the bus, missing another game.

Prospect Zack Cox filled in for Berkman at DH on Thursday and knocked in a run, but he's not ready to fill in full-time for Berkman in the field and the National League doesn't have the DH.

Sure, it's early, and several players are battling bumps and bruises, but not all of them are 35, coming off a down season, moving to a more demanding physical position, blocked at their old position and being counted on to remedy a team's offense. That's a lot on the shoulders of the Big Puma, and it's looking less like he can shoulder that load.

WAKE-UP: As if stepping into the box against a guy who can sling the ball 105 mph wasn't enough to get your attention, the first pitch ending up somewhere near the bull certainly got Dodger Trent Oeltjen's attention. Thursday night, the first pitch of Chapman's inning of work went over the catcher's mitt and over the umpire's head. His next three pitches to Oeltjen were strikes, including strike three looking.

"If it was at my face, I wouldn't have had time to move," Oeltjen told the Los Angeles Times' Dylan Hernandez. "It woke me up. He sent a message he was throwing hard."

Said new manager Don Mattingly: "Jeez, huh? He was Randy Johnson-ish. It gets there quick, doesn't it?"

GOOD NEWS, BAD NEWS: Carlos Zambrano didn't fight anyone in his Thursday start for the Cubs -- not only that, he threw three scoreless innings. However, he did complain of arm fatigue after the start.

"I was just tired," Zambrano said to the Chicago Sun-Times. "It's normal. I wasn't feeling power in my arm, but I guarantee you I will work hard and feel good in my next start."

Zambrano note he typically feels a "dead-arm" at least once a spring.

JUST BAD NEWS: Yesterday the question was if Astros' catcher Jason Castro would miss the beginning of the season. Today, it's if he'll play at all this season.

Thursday night, Castro was diagnosed with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. Castro was scheduled to have surgery this morning, and general manager Ed Wade said he could return "by mid-September." (Houston Chronicle)

WAIT FOR JUDGEMENT? Matt Cain said he hasn't thrown a ball since coming down with elbow inflammation on Sunday and will likely miss multiple starts this spring. 

However, Cain's not too concerned, even after taking an MRI.

There is a history -- and this is something to watch -- of pitchers going to the postseason one season and having trouble the next because of the increased workload. While Cain's not worried, it'll be something to monitor with all of the Giants' pitching staff. (San Francisco Chronicle)

ANOTHER WART: Hopefully Orioles starter Brian Matusz won't tweet a picture like Michael Cuddyer, but he'll also be having a wart professionally removed.

Matusz's wart is on the middle finger of his pitching hand. Still, he threw two scoreless innings on Wednesday even with the wart. He had it some last year, but pitched through it. He said it bothers him some on his breaking ball. (Baltimore Sun)

WAS THAT REALLY A CONSIDERATION? Oliver Perez has been the New York media's favorite target for a while, but is this really necessary? The New Your Daily News' "breaking news" from "a source" is that the Mets have internally decided Perez will not be a starter during the regular season.

The Daily News' Andy Martino wrote that the day after he wrote the team would cut Perez (and his $12 million salary) if he didn't perform well in his start on Thursday. Well, he threw two scoreless innings against the Cardinals, so Martino didn't get his wish. Instead, he had to find a new way to pile onto Perez.

Hey, it's not to say Perez doesn't stink. He does. Or that he's not overpaid -- he is. It's just, this breathless reporting seems almost like piling on. Sure, the Mets have said he's in contention for the rotation, but the Mets say a lot of things, and it's not like we believe those.

NOW HE COULD BE IN A ROTATION: Neftali Feliz wasn't too happy with his first start of spring. Still, he threw two scoreless innings, so it wasn't bad. He also threw three different pitches, but struggled with his command and rhythm.

The Feliz story may be one of the more interesting ones of spring, and certainly something to watch as the month goes along. He'll throw three innings next week. (Fort Worth Star-Telegram)

VISA TIME: Edinson Volquez, Cincinnati's opening-day starter, could pitch his first spring training start because of a visa problem, but he should be able to make his next start after a quick trip to his native Dominican Republic.

"Everything is set," he told the Cincinnati Enquirer's John Fay. "They're just waiting for me to pitch it up."

He was unable to pitch in games at which admission is charged because he came to camp on a travel visa, not a work visa. His work visa was held up because of his failed drug test and suspension last season.

COCO CONTRITE: A's outfielder Coco Crisp said he's embarrassed about his DUI arrest on Wednesday morning. (San Francisco Chronicle)

GO METS OR GO HOME: Former Cardinals and A's closer Jason Isringhausen is back in camp for the Mets, after starting a comeback last season in the Reds system.

Isringhausen played in Triple-A last season, but says his bus-riding days are over. If he doesn't break camp with the Mets, he'll just go home and call it a career. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

OR JUST GO HOME: Boston's J.D. Drew says he's considering retiring after this year. It's been one of those things he's hinted at before and is hardly a surprise. (Boston Herald)

SO WHO IS A-ROD? According to Wikileaks, a U.S. diplomatic cable on the 2009 Iranian election called President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad the "George Steinbrenner of Iran" when talking about his influence over the national soccer team.

I'm guessing that wasn't a compliment. (Associated Press)

WHAT'S A WORLD SERIES WORTH? How much are World Series starts worth to a Hall of Fame discussion? Or, even more words about Jack Morris from Baseball Prospectus.

Honestly, I used to be a Morris for the Hall guy, I'm not anymore. I used to not be a Bert Blyleven guy, but I am now. But I'll certainly never change my feeling that I never want to hear another Morris-Blyleven debate.

A BETTER SCORECARD: An interview with Bethany Heck, the designer of a new, better, scorebook. Heck's 20-game scorebook is like "if Moleskine made a scorebook…" (Bugs & Cranks)

WHAT TO WATCH: Jake Peavy will make his first start since July 6 today against the Angels in Tempe, Ariz.

"Hopefully, we'll see some of the hard work we've done pay off," he told the Chicago Tribune.

QUARTERBACK SHOWDOWN: There's a Groundhog Day aspect to spring training, so Padres manager Bud Black found a way to break up the monotony -- a quarterback combine.

While Cam Newton and Blaine Gabbert (seriously, could you draft a quarterback named "Blaine") did this in Indianapolis last week, Black had his former quarterbacks -- top prospect Casey Kelly, Cory Luebke, Orlando Hudson and Nick Hundley -- go through their own competition Thursday morning.

According to MLB.com's Corey Brock, the three went through several drills, including hitting a moving target. Luebke, a high school quarterback in Ohio, upset Kelly, who signed a letter of intent to play QB at Tennessee.

"We're here for six weeks," Black said. "… We try to do some things to keep the guys going."

MARK YOUR CALENDAR: The Reds have announced the front-runner for the year's best bobblehead. On July 2 against the Indians, fans will receive the combination Dusty Baker bobblehead and toothpick holder. The bobblehead even has Dusty with a toothpick in his mouth (and, of course, sweatbands on his arms). So far, it's the best bobblehead I've seen on tap for this year, with the Reds also getting second place for their Jonny Gomes bobblehead and arm, mimicking the way Gomes tugs at his helmet before every at-bat.

Dusty Baker

IF YOU'RE NOT ALREADY BEARDED OUT: The literary journal McSweeney's is selling a "How to Beard Yourself Like Brian Wilson" poster.

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Posted on: March 1, 2011 9:53 am
Edited on: March 1, 2011 10:21 am
 

Pepper: Finding Mauer in Montero


Posted by Matt Snyder


In the latest Ear on Baseball podcast , C. Trent Rosecrans and I had Baseball Prospectus' Kevin Goldstein on, and among other things we discussed how Yankees star catching prospect Jesus Montero may eventually be ticketed for a position change.

Interestingly, in a Tuesday morning Bats blog (via New York Times ), there's a piece on Joe Mauer discussing similarities between the two catchers and how he believes Montero should do everything he can to remain a catcher, if that's what he wants to do.

"Too big. Not quick enough. I heard everything under the sun," Mauer said. He's 6-foot-5, while Montero is 6-foot-4.

Mauer also encouraged Montero to learn everything he can from veteran catchers Russell Martin and Jorge Posada in camp, and to learn everything about the pitchers he might be catching.

Montero, 21, is generally considered one of the top prospects as a hitter, but many scouts believe he'll be inadequate behind the plate in the bigs. Mauer believes he heard the same, but I think there's a difference. Most scouts knew Mauer could handle duties behind the plate, if memory serves correctly, it's just that many believe he needs to move away from behind the plate eventually in order to lengthen his career. He's too good a hitter to physically fall apart by his early 30s. That doesn't mean he's a bad defender.

CARLOS AT THE BAT: Yes, Cubs manager Mike Quade will use pitcher Carlos Zambrano as a pinch-hitter when the game dictates this season. While his actual skill with the stick pales in comparison to the sheer entertainment value of an at-bat, he can swing it. He has three Silver Sluggers and 21 career home runs to go with a .236 average and .631 OPS. Obviously that's pretty bad for an actual hitter, but if you're looking for someone to extend the bench, he's serviceable enough. In fact, he's hit at least .300 in a season twice, as recently as 2008 -- when he hit .337 with an .892 OPS. He was a better hitter than Derrek Lee that year. Seriously. (Chicago Tribune )

ZITO VS. PRINCE, PART II:
Last season, Barry Zito and Prince Fielder had a slight flare-up in spring training after Zito plunked the portly first baseman -- in retaliation for a Fielder celebration in 2009. Monday, the two had a spat ... over a walk? Really, guys? They were seen jawing at each other, but fortunately both took the high road after the game. Zito said he asked Fielder how his offseason went and how his family was doing. Fielder said they were discussing dinner plans. Boys will be boys, even when it's not yet summer, so there's no reason to make a mountain out of a molehill. (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel )

OBLIGATORY YOUNG UPDATE: Michael Young is not unhappy, nor is he dogging it in spring training. In fact, he's working just as hard as he ever has and made the first appearance of his life at first base Monday. He even accepts the addition of Mike Napoli, who is expected to steal plenty of at-bats from Young at DH this season. "He was a thorn in our side when he was in Anaheim. He can hit for power," Young said. "I think what he’s done in his career speaks for itself. When he got here in camp I think we’ve all been impressed with just how good a teammate he seems. That’s the kind of thing guys look at first. He seems a really good guy. Seems like he’s fit in really well since Day 1 and I’m excited that he’s here." (ESPN Dallas )

SCHLERETH INJURED: Tigers relief pitcher Daniel Schlereth injured his hamstring Monday. He actually felt a pop, but early the prognosis sounds positive, as the medical staff reportedly told the lefty it was a strain and not a tear -- which would cause him to miss significant time. Instead, it seems only a minor setback. In fact, he's more annoyed with the injury than anything else. "This is stupid," he said. "This isn't important. I'm not too worried about it. I just want to play. I want to make the team." (Detroit Free-Press )

TIME MACHINE: Mark Prior threw a perfect inning. In 2011. Granted, it was a single inning early in spring training, but it had to have been an encouraging outing for a man whose career was prematurely derailed years ago by injuries. For the optimistic out there, he's still only 30. There's time. (Star-Ledger )

WHO NEEDS OBP? The Rockies are ready to use catcher Chris Iannetta in the eight-hole this season. When you look at his batting average (.234) last season it makes sense. When you look at his OBP, it doesn't. His .353 career OBP is better than teammates Seth Smith, Ian Stewart, Dexter Fowler and Ty Wigginton. But his batting average is lower. It still amazes me how hard this concept is to grasp for so many. It astounds me that people look at batting average before OBP. Think about it in reverse. On-base percentage is a measure of how many times you don't get out. Isn't that the actual goal when you step in the batter's box? In this specific case, you could argue Fowler and Stewart are still young and could get better, but Iannetta's 27 and has torn up minor-league pitching for years. And when he takes a ton of walks this season with the pitcher on deck, his batting average won't be near as high as his OBP. Serenity now. (Denver Post )

SOLID INTERVIEW:
Another thing we discussed in the Ear on Baseball podcast was how incredibly loaded the Royals' minor league system is. General manager Dayton Moore sat down with John Sickels of Minor League Ball for an interview. I'm not going to bother to summarize or cut it down at all, just click through. The whole thing is worth a look. And while I'm not a fan of the Royals or anything, it's worth noting I'd like to see everything come to fruition with this group. It's been a long time since the Royals were a serious contender, so a little change there wouldn't hurt anything. Now, about those Pirates ...

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Posted on: March 1, 2011 12:34 am
Edited on: March 1, 2011 1:16 pm
 

Getting to know the Cubs

Posted by C. Trent Rosecrans

Mike Quade

KNOBLER: Cubs Camp Report -- All Smiles

MVP

MVP usually stands for Most Valuable Player -- but a player may not be the most valuable for the Cubs this season, instead the most valuable person could be manager Mike Quade. Quade didn't inherit the easiest job in the world -- the fact that it's been more than 100 years since the Cubs won the World Series is proof. Between managing the Psychiatrists' Row Rotation of Carlos Zambrano, Carlos Silva and Matt Garza and juggling a lineup full with the overpriced (Alfonso Soriano, Kosuke Fukudome), the past-their-prime (Aramis Ramirez, Carlos Pena) and the unproven (Starlin Castro), Quade's got some interesting parts, but it could just as easily spin out of control as it is to work out.

PLAYER ORACLE : Mordecai "Three Finger" Brown to Carlos Marmol

Mordecai Brown played with Bob O'Farrell for the 1916 Chicago Cubs

Bob O'Farrell played with Phil Cavarretta for the 1934 Chicago Cubs

Phil Cavarretta played with Minnie Minoso for the 1955 Chicago White Sox

Minnie Minoso played with Rich Gossage for the 1976 Chicago White Sox

Rich Gossage played with Greg Maddux for the 1988 Chicago Cubs

Greg Maddux played with Carlos Marmol for the 2006 Chicago Cubs

POP CULTURE

Whenever the Cubs win at Wrigley Field, they play a song called Go, Cubs, Go and the entire crowd sings along. The song was written in 1984 by Steve Goodman, a Chicago native and Cubs fan.

However, Go, Cubs, Go is just one of three Cubs song written by Goodman, along with A Dying Cubs Fan's Last Request and When the Cubs Go Marching In . The former is his masterpiece (and that's saying something when you're talking about the guy who wrote The City of New Orleans and You Never Even Called Me By My Name ) and also the impetus for Go Cubs Go .

When then-Cubs GM Dallas Green called A Dying Cubs Fan's Last Request "depressing," Goodman wrote Go, Cubs, Go out of spite. Goodman, was a realistic Cubs fan -- when he sang Take Me Out To the Ballgame he switched the lyrics to, "It's root, root, root, for the home team, if they don't win, what else is new," and A Dying Cubs Fan's Last Request is written in that tone. The kicker to the song is:

The dying man's friends told him to cut it out

They said stop it that's an awful shame

He whispered, "Don't Cry, we'll meet by and by near the Heavenly Hall of Fame

He said, "I've got season's tickets to watch the Angels now,

So its just what I'm going to do

He said, "but you the living, you're stuck here with the Cubs,

So its me that feels sorry for you!"

Goodman debuted the song in 1983, and then he died of leukemia on Sept. 20, 1984. Four days later, the Cubs clinched the Eastern Division title, only to fall to the Padres in the National League Championship Series. 


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Posted on: February 22, 2011 5:09 pm
 

Zambrano 'cured' of anger issues

ZambranoCarlos Zambrano lightheartedly called himself "cured" of anger problems Tuesday, but the fact remains his anger management lessons did work.

Zambrano was ordered to undergo treatment after having a tantrum in the dugout after the first inning of a game against the White Sox. These sessions ended in October after psychologists believed he was ready.

"It did work, and believe me, that was an experience that I can take through the years," Zambrano told MLB.com.

The sessions ended in October, and he's now ready to take his lessons moving forward. But don't mistake his anger management lessons to mean he's a bad guy.

"My problem [doesn't have to do with] being a good person," Zambrano said. "The problem I have to solve is when I get upset on the field. I think my problem is after I cross those lines. When somebody makes an error or I make an error, that's my problem."

Zambrano has handled himself fine so far in spring training, even accepting the news that he would not be making a seventh straight Opening Day start with grace. This step forward from Big Z is encouraging, but what matters more is what he does on the field during the dog days of summer when things don't go his way. Then, we'll truly see if these lessons worked.

-- Evan Brunell

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Category: MLB
 
 
 
 
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