Tag:Brad Penny
Posted on: May 27, 2010 10:01 pm

Cardinals may need pitching soon

With right-hander Kyle Lohse set for forearm surgery on Friday and a long season stretched out in front of them, maybe scoring runs shouldn't be the Cardinals' chief concern after all.

Right now, even with a rotation that ranks second to San Diego's in the National League with a 3.03 ERA, the warning signs are flashing.

While the Cardinals figure to get right-hander Brad Penny back when he's eligible to return from the disabled list June 7, there is no timetable -- yet -- for Lohse's return.

And though rookie Jaime Garcia (1.14 ERA, 11 consecutive scoreless innings) has been sensational, he underwent Tommy John ligament transfer surgery in September, 2008, and only pitched a total of 37 2/3 innings combined at three minor-league levels in 2009.

Which all likely will put St. Louis in the market for more starting pitching at some point this season. Seattle's Cliff Lee, Houston's Roy Oswalt, Cleveland's Jake Westbrook and possibly even Oakland's Ben Sheets are all among the names expected to become available between now and the July 31 trade deadline, though La Russa -- whose club acquired John Smoltz last year -- isn't allowing his imagination to run wild at this point.

"I think it will come from within [the organization]," La Russa said of any eventual pitching reinforcements. "Mo [general manager John Mozeliak], can answer that better, and maybe differently. But I haven't heard anything different than from within."

It isn't that the Cardinals are anywhere close to trouble now, even with Lohse headed into unknown territory to undergo surgery for an injury to which there apparently is no precedent in major-league baseball.

With co-aces Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright breathing fire, the Cardinals are in good shape. Garcia, so far, so good.

"I think we'll get Penny back [when his DL stint is up]," manager Tony La Russa said Thursday. "That means we'll have four solid guys. There's a question mark on Lohse. But everybody has problems."

Until the Cardinals get Penny back, they're down two-fifths of their rotation. As La Russa said, for one thing, that gives an opportunity to rookie P.J. Walters, who made just his second career start on Thursday in San Diego.

The kid stepped up to the challenge, throwing five shutout innings. He allowed four hits, struck out four and walked two.

Saturday in Chicago's Wrigley Field, Adam Ottavino, the Cardinals' first-round pick in 2006, is expected to make his first major-league start. Another opportunity.

Garcia, 23, certainly has made the most of his. He's worked six or more innings and allowed two or fewer earned runs in each of his first seven starts, and the last rookie to do that was named Fernando Valenzuela, back in 1981.

The issue is, if Garcia continues pitching this well, it's hard to see how there won't be a breaking point when he reaches a certain number of innings. What are the Cardinals going to do, allow a prized kid less than two years off of Tommy John surgery to, say, quadruple his innings-pitched load from last year? He's at 55 1/3 innings pitched so far in 2010.

"You can't speculate," La Russa said. "All you can do is watch closely. He never really forced it ... you really have to wait and see how the season develops. We're going to be really careful with him."

Lohse was diagnosed this week with exertional compartment syndrome, an uncommon, exercise-induced neuromuscular condition that causes pain and swelling in the legs or arms. As St. Louis Post-Dispatch beat writer Joe Strauss reported, it is most common in marathon runners and motocross drivers. Athletes in those sports generally have resumed activity within six-to-eight weeks, though, as a pitcher, Lohse is expected to take a longer.

La Russa said Thursday he figures Lohse will return "this year. Other than that, we just have to wait."

Posted on: December 10, 2009 6:06 pm

Slow meetings, price of pitching and more

INDIANAPOLIS -- As baseball executives made like Indy 500 cars and sped toward the airport around midday Thursday -- braving freezing temperatures, a biting wind and ice-covered trees along the way -- the one clear thing that emerged from a mostly slow-paced winter meetings was predictable:

The best hedge against an economy that is squeezing many is if you making your living pitching a baseball.

When Brad Penny, 31 and released by the Red Sox last summer before he hooked on with San Francisco, signed a one-year deal for a $7.5 million base salary plus another $1.5 million in incentives with St. Louis, it raised more than a few eyebrows.

When Randy Wolf, 33 and having missed time with both shoulder and elbow injuries during the past four years, signed a whopping three-year, $29.75 million deal with Milwaukee, it practically raised the roof of the Indianapolis Marriott.

And when Rich Harden, who seems to be stricken with some type of injury every 100 pitches, signed a one-year deal for $6.5 million with Texas ... well, let's just say that ought to scotch any collusion accusations from owners.

"In all honesty, we came into this thing without expecting to be a player for starting pitching," Astros general manager Ed Wade said. "We were prepared to pay significant money for Randy Wolf a year ago, but because of the economy we had to back out.

"Guys at the top of the market are going to get their money."

Indeed. In the case of Wolf, three years is what it took to get him. The Mets were one of the teams offering two years.

"With Penny, [new Houston manager and former Boston bench coach] Brad Mills said that just before he was released by Boston, he started to get his arm strength back," Wade said. "He showed he was healthy in San Francisco.

"On a one-year deal, it makes sense. If there's a bounce back, it can be a big bounce back."

-- Still, more teams than not left Indianapolis with long to-do lists, without having accomplished much of what they need to before spring training  draws too much closer. A large part of the reason is because the deadline for a club to tender contracts to its arbitration-eligible players -- Saturday -- comes after the winter meetings. Probably somewhere close to 100 or more free agents will flood the market after that. "From the GM's point of view, we all wish more trades were made," Cubs GM Jim Hendry said. "It was slower than we all anticipated. There are so many free agents, and there will be more after Saturday. If you can come to a deal with a player without giving up prospects, then that's the way to go."

-- You've heard of "location, location, location" in the real estate business, but it was a key to getting the three-way trade between Detroit, the Yankees and Arizona done this week, too. Diamondbacks' GM Josh Byrnes was able to drive over and see Ian Kennedy pitch in the Arizona Fall League this fall, and his first-hand scouting of Kennedy helped move along the discussions.

-- One other thought on the three-way deal: Several baseball people wondered in the aftermath of the deal whether Arizona knows something about the two young pitchers it sent to Detroit, Max Scherzer and Daniel Schlerer, like whether they're injured.  One scout who saw each toward the end of the year said he doesn't think that's an issue, but did say he thinks each is a long-term health risk given the way they pitch with maximum effort and given each's body type. OK, fine. But remember, people have been saying that for the past few years about a guy in San Francisco, fella named Tim Lincecum.

-- Atlanta left with an excess of starting pitching and still hoping it can acquire a middle of the lineup bat. The Braves will continue to field inquiries about starters Javier Vazquez and Derek Lowe, and they probably will have to absorb some of either's contract to get a deal done. Vazquez, the more likely of the two to be traded, is owed $11.5 million in 2010, Lowe is due $45 million over the next three years.

-- Seattle GM Jack Zduriencik on the Mariners' talks with free agent slugger Jason Bay. "We've left our options open to acquire more talent. There are several ways we could go about that."

-- Zduriencik on Seattle's winter so far: "We're very satisfied, certainly, with signing Chone Figgins. We restructured Jack Wilson's contract, locked him up for the next two years. We brought Ken Griffey Jr. back. As we sit here today, we have three pieces that are very important to next year's club. We still have flexibility with Figgins [who can play third base, second or left field}. We needed a guy like Chone. We targeted him from the get-go."

-- Most likely trade partner with Toronto for Roy Halladay remains the Los Angeles Angels. Philadelphia was said to be talking with Toronto, but Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro said Thursday "there's nothing likely" regarding a trade with the Blue Jays. If the Angels would include shortstop Erick Aybar -- doubtful -- that would be key to getting a deal done.

-- If the Angels can't reach an agreement for an extension with Halladay -- who has one year and $16 million remaining on his contract -- then they would accordingly reduce the level of the package of players they ship to Toronto.

-- The Phillies were in trade talks with Atlanta for Rafael Soriano "pretty deep", according to Amaro, before Tampa Bay acquired the reliever.

-- The Mets made offers to two free agents, outfielder Jason Bay and catcher Bengie Molina, just before departing the meetings Thursday, sources close to the team said.

-- One NL executive's prediction as he wheeled his suitcase through the Marriott lobby Thursday: Jason Bay winds up signing with Seattle and Matt Holliday with Boston.

-- The Cubs, in the market for a center fielder, very well could wind up signing one of two free agents, either Mike Cameron or Marlon Byrd. Cameron played for manager Lou Piniella in Seattle. "As a player and a person, I have the utmost respect for him, there's no question," Piniella said. "I had him in Seattle and got along with him very well. He's a guy that, he can play. He likes to play."


Posted on: December 7, 2009 7:57 pm

Cardinals agree to terms with P Brad Penny

INDIANAPOLIS -- He isn't Matt Holliday -- that situation is still pending -- but the St. Louis Cardinals did bag a starting pitcher Monday, agreeing to terms with free agent Brad Penny on a one-year deal, sources with knowledge of the talks told CBSSports.com.

The deal, pending a physical examination on Tuesday, will pay Penny a base salary of $7.5 million, with $1.5 million in incentives attached.

Penny will join a Cardinals' rotation that was lacking after a strong top three of Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright and Kyle Lohse.

The big right-hander spent most of 2009 proving he again was healthy after battling a sore shoulder for most of 2008. In 34 starts for Boston and San Francisco in '09, Penny went 11-9 with a 4.88 ERA in 173 1/3 innings pitched.

The Giants were hoping to re-sign Penny and made a concerted effort but were informed Monday that he had decided to sign elsewhere. The Cardinals are hopeful that the news will become official by Tuesday evening.

Posted on: September 8, 2009 9:25 pm

Lincecum: The back story

San Francisco scratching Tim Lincecum from Tuesday night's start against San Diego with inflammation in his back, to say the least, is not good news for the Giants.

Unless ... Lincecum returns to the rotation on Friday against the Dodgers, which would then put him on target to start the finale of a huge series against Colorado next Wednesday and. ...

This is the time of year for conspiracy theories, with all hands on deck and all eyes on the out-of-town scoreboard. And if the Giants were to use a sore back as camouflage to shuffle their stretch-run rotation and set Lincecum up to face both the Dodgers and the Rockies, well, it could be a move of sheer brilliance.

Alas, there are enough indicators that signal this probably is no ruse.

But in speaking with the San Francisco media before Tuesday night's game, Giants manager Bruce Bochy did say it's "possible" that Lincecum could start before his next turn in the rotation (Monday night against the Rockies).

Bochy also did say that his ace will start as soon as he becomes available.

"The sooner we can get him out there, the more starts he would get," Bochy aptly noted.

Hmmm. ...

Now, about those indicators.

Lincecum's velocity has been down in his past few starts, climaxing with the Giants' mysterious decision not to display pitch speeds during the right-hander's last start at home, back on Aug. 28. Instead of his usual 94 m.p.h., Lincecum's fastball has been tracking at 92, 93. Not enough to set off serious alarms, and yes, sometimes a power pitcher's velocity will drop late in the season.

Of course, as the excellent website FanGraphs.com noted in an analysis of Lincecum's slow start back in April, the Cy Young award winner's fastball over his first two starts this season averaged just 92.8 miles an hour, a small drop from the 94.1 career average on his fastball. And nothing apparently was wrong then.

Given his violent motion and small frame (5-11, 170 pounds), durability questions always have hounded Lincecum throughout his career. Not only has he avoided any serious issues so far, he's been a true workhorse. Lincecum leads the NL and ranks second in the majors with 200 1/3 innings pitched, though he ranks sixth in the majors in pitches thrown (3,034).

At 13-5 with a 2.34 ERA, Lincecum is making an excellent case for a second consecutive Cy Young award while the Giants make a spirited dash toward a potential playoff spot.

Best-case scenario right now is if Lincecum makes an extraordinarily rapid recovery and suddenly becomes available to face the Dodgers and the Rockies.

Worst-case scenario? Nobody wants to think about that one right now. And hopefully, we won't have to think about it. The Giants insist this is just a "flare-up", and nothing more.

"The best thing for us is to talk about this in a couple of days," Bochy said. "We'll have more information."

Good news on Thursday or Friday would be most welcome.

Likes: The Giants' upcoming homestand against the Dodgers and Rockies, beginning on Friday night. ... September scoreboard watching. ... Brad Penny making it known to other clubs after he left Boston that he was heading straight back to the National League. He's no dummy. One taste of the AL will do that for a pitcher. ... Stephen Colbert on the cover of the current issue of Rolling Stone. Good interview. ... Sam Kashner's piece on William Manchester and his book Death of a President in the current issue of Vanity Fair. Manchester was asked to write the definitive account of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy by Kennedy's widow, Jackie, but it turned political and took a toll on Manchester over the next several years as he attempted to complete it and deal with the changing attitudes of Jackie and Robert Kennedy, JFK's brother. Very compelling read.

Dislikes: The Pink Pony closing in Scottsdale, Ariz. In its day, you could find executives and players from every team that trained in the Phoenix area hanging out there each spring. In its dotage over the past few years, you still could find stray baseball officials and writers hanging out there. A steak joint located in Scottsdale's Old Town, the Pony was legendary.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Beth McKenzie got the job of her dreams
"Retouching photos for a magazine, aimed at teens
"It’s Thursday night she should be out on the scene
"But she’s sitting at home watching The King of Queens"

-- Fountains of Wayne, Someone to Love


Posted on: August 28, 2009 3:54 pm

Twins acquire Jon Rauch

Buoyed by winning five of their past seven games and crawling back into the AL Central race, the Twins acquired pitcher Jon Rauch from Arizona on Friday for a player to be named later.

Rauch, 2-2 with a 4.14 ERA and two saves this season, gives manager Ron Gardenhire another option as he maneuvers a threadbare -- and young -- pitching staff. The Twins already this season have used 22 different pitchers, closing in on the club-record 23 they needed in 1989. The Twins have not used 22 pitchers in any season since 1995.

The Twins already this month added starter Carl Pavano in a waiver deal with Cleveland. Their preference would be to add another starter given that starters Kevin Slowey, Glenn Perkins and Francisco Liriano all are on the disabled list. Failing that -- and the Twins reportedly have considered Boston's Brad Penny and the Cubs' Rich Harden from the waiver wires -- Minnesota felt its best option was to beef up its bullpen as much as possible.


Posted on: March 20, 2008 9:16 pm

Dodgers back, name Penny Opening Day starter

PHOENIX, Ariz. -- The Los Angeles Globetrotters, er, Dodgers, touched down in Phoenix, whipped the Chicago White Sox 8-2 in their first Cactus League game and then promptly named Brad Penny as their Opening Day starter.

"We sort of had it planned that way if he kept progressing this spring," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said. "Going into the sixth inning today, he had thrown only 61 pitches."

Game-time Thursday didn't come a moment too soon, either. The Dodgers actually landed in the Valley of the Sun following their two exhbition games with San Diego in China a couple of nights ago, and they worked out at Papago Park here adjacent to Phoenix Municipal Stadium on Wednesday.

Because Oakland hadn't yet vacated the facilities for Japan -- the A's left following their game Wednesday -- the Dodgers dressed for their workout in Salon B at the Phoenix Ritz Carlton Hotel and clomped out toward the team bus and cabs from there.

"It was pretty impressive that our clubhouse staff made it work," pinch-hitter Mark Sweeney said. "It was nice to see training tables under chandeliers."

Sweeney noted it was a bit unusual to go to get his car from the valet in full uniform, but not quite as unusual as catcher Gary Bennett running into Starbucks in full uniform for the morning coffee. That was the deal Sweeney drove for giving him a ride to practice.

The Dodgers were able to move their equipment into Oakland's now-empty home clubhouse Thursday morning, and they'll be temporary residents here for the rest of the spring before breaking camp -- such as it is, after shutting down Vero Beach and then spending three days in China -- next week.

The real fun then begins once they're back in Los Angeles, where the Dodgers, as part of theit 50th anniversary celebration, will host the Boston Red Sox in an exhibition game at the Los Angeles Coliseum next Saturday.

The Dodgers, who played at the Coliseum when they first moved to Southern California before Dodger Stadium was built, are expecting 115,000 fans for the nostalgic game.

And while there, the Red Sox may notice that their Green Monster suddenly seems pretty small. Because of the configuration of the Coliseum, left field will be -- I am not making this up -- 200 feet from home plate. The old Coliseum wasn't quite as "intimate" because, as you might remember from old Olympic footage, there once was a track ringing the field. But that's gone and the seats are closer, so what the Dodgers will do while attempting to keep the pitchers sane is erect a 60-foot high wall in left-field.

Wonder what Manny Ramirez will think of that?

As for the Dodgers, I'm sure they'll just be happy to be home.

Oh, and by the way, Thursday at Phoenix Municipal Stadium? The club's gear gear got moved in on time, and the Dodgers actually dressed in a clubhouse again.

"It was nice," Torre said. "And we get to do it again tomorrow."

Likes: Big pro-Dodgers crowd of 7,654 in attendance. ... White Sox hitting coach Greg Walker singing along with Johnny Cash's Folsom Prison Blues as it was playing on the Phoenix Municipal Stadium sound system during batting practice before Thursday's Cactus League game with the Dodgers. ... Another classic A.J. Pierzynski moment in Thursday's game: He lofted a high foul pop down the left-field line and was called out even though nobody caught it. Reason? Dodgers left fielder Andre Ethier ran into one of the White Sox relievers as he was warming up on a bullpen mound. The Sox pitcher didn't move out of Ethier's way, and the umpires thumbed Pierzynski out because of the obstruction. ... The mountains in the background at Phoenix Municipal Stadium. Beautiful setting here.

Dislikes: The USA Today story the other day pointing out that one in 25 residents of New Orleans is homeless. That is an unbelievable and pathetic number for a country as supposedly advanced as ours. Yeah, great job, Brownie. ... No more wireless Internet in the Phoenix Municipal Stadium press box. The Oakland A's packed it up and took it with them when they broke camp Wednesday. Seriously, don't know whether it's on the plan to Japan or on the bus back to Oakland. Whatever, it was awfully inconvenient attempting to get work done at the Dodgers-White Sox game here Thursday. The Dodgers replaced Oakland at Phoenix Municipal Stadium. ... Arizona already on Pacific Time instead of remaining on Mountain Time, as it often is at this point in March. The problem? Once the NCAA tournament starts, we get games out here at 4:10 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. at the end of the day, as opposed to 5 and 7:30. That hour makes all the difference when you're working during the day and attempting to finish in time to see some hoops.

Sunblock day? It's warming up. Into the 80s and you'd better coat yourself with sunblock several layers of sunblock. Otherwise, you'll burn.

Rock-n-Roll lyric of the day:

"Sittin' here resting my bones
"And this loneliness won't leave me alone, yes,
"Two thousand miles I roam
"Just to make this dock my home"

-- Otis Redding, (Sittin' on) The Dock of the Bay

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com