Tag:Brandon Webb
Posted on: March 9, 2011 3:54 pm
 

Webb still a ways off for Rangers

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Pitching to sleepy-eyed minor-league hitters in front of a manager and pitching coach early on a March morning is vastly different than throwing in front of 45,000 in late October.

But late October is where both the Texas Rangers and Brandon Webb hope to be working later this year, so Wednesday's slow-out-of-the-gates session for the right-hander counted as the first step toward, well, who-knows-what.

The 2006 NL Cy Young winner hasn't pitched since opening day 2009, and he looked every bit of that while throwing for the first time this spring to live hitters.

The Rangers hope he can become healthy and strong enough to help them later in the summer. Based on his 62-pitch test-drive session Wednesday, it's not going to be sooner.

"I'm not dreaming," manager Ron Washington said. "I'm more focused on the ones who are healthy and around right now.

"When he becomes available, then I can dream."

It's still awfully fuzzy as to when that might be. Webb threw several sinkers -- his chief weapon -- as well as changeups and fastballs.

"His sink was there, it just wasn't heavy," said Washington, who noted that he threw some good breaking balls and changeups and some not-so-good breaking balls and changeups.

"I don't know if he can be the same guy" that he was before, Washington said. "But what he does have is pedigree. He knows how to get outs. A good pitcher knows how to get outs. That's important to me."

The Rangers signed Webb to a one-year deal that guarantees him $3 million and could earn him as much as $8 million with incentives in early January after ace Cliff Lee spurned them for the Philadelphia Phillies.

"Of course we need him," Washington said. "But as far as counting on him, he'll let us know."

The next step, the manager said, would be for Webb to pitch another round of live batting practice. But Webb remains so far behind that the Rangers will wait to schedule that until they see how his shoulder responds over the next couple of days to Wednesday's effort.

 

Posted on: March 14, 2010 12:22 am
 

Ian Kennedy's new start in the desert

TUCSON, Ariz. -- Go ahead, let Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes write another chapter in their endless "Will he start or will he relieve?" saga this spring.

From his perch in the desert, right-hander Ian Kennedy is perfectly content to have left the No. 4 train to the Bronx behind.

He's making his pitch toward the Arizona Diamondbacks' rotation and, though they're not handing him the job, they are giving him what might be the most important guarantee he could get: They view him as a starter, period. The bullpen is not an option.

"We'd like him to win the job," manager A.J. Hinch says. "We feel like he's going to win the job."

As Hinch says, they're not handing out jobs. Kennedy must earn his keep. But you get the idea. ...

"It's nice, because when I was with the Yankees, I didn't know this spring if I was going to relieve or start, what my role was," Kennedy says. "If they wanted me to start in Triple-A. ...

"Coming here, they said, 'Here's what you could have. You've got to just do what you do.' That's the advantage of being here. If you look around, there's a lot of good, young players here. That's what I'm excited about."

Having missed most of '09 with an aneurysm near his right shoulder, Kennedy is doing his normal spring work and feeling good. The Diamondbacks' rotation is somewhat in flux because of ace Brandon Webb's slow return from shoulder surgery.

Kennedy figured to line up as the No. 4 starter behind Webb, Dan Haren and Edwin Jackson -- though with Webb expected to start on the disabled list, Kennedy could find himself pitching the third game of the season against San Diego.

He's spent a lot of time with Webb this spring which, among other things, has resulted in Kennedy adding a sinker to his repertoire. That first came up during the Arizona Fall League.

"I talk to Webby a lot," Kennedy says. "He's usually in the training room, and I've asked him a lot of questions so far about pitching, trying to pick his brain on how he can throw that great of a two-seamer [sinking fastball]."

Sunblock Day? Finally, some sun and some 70-degree weather. And don't look now, but they're predicting highs of 83 and 84 Tuesday and Wednesday in Phoenix.

Likes: Diamondbacks bench coach Kirk Gibson and former major leaguer Brett Butler, now managing at Triple-A Reno, giving hands-on lessons on baserunning the other day on one of the back fields. I hope the younger Diamondbacks in particular were listening, there's a lot of wisdom to be learned from those two men. ... The Rooster Cogburn Ostrich Ranch off of I-10 on the way south to Tucson. Never fails to amuse. And no, I didn't stop and pet the deer (one of the options listed in the extravagant signage). ... Picacho Peak, between Casa Grande and Tucson off of I-10. My friend Steve Gilbert of MLB.com informed me that the westernmost battle of the Civil War was waged there. It's now a state park, and there's a re-enactment of the battle each year. ... Watching the Big East title game Saturday night on television, great scene at the end after West Virginia won and they blasted John Denver's Take Me Home, Country Roads over the speaker system in Madison Square Garden with the Mountaineer fans singing loudly, especially to the lines in which Denver sings, "To the place, I belong, West Virginia. ..." Sounded great on television.

Dislikes: So I hear there's going to be a "big announcement" on a Detroit radio station Friday night from Alto Reed, saxophone player for Bob Seger. A summer tour, perhaps? How cool would that be? Uh, no. The announcement, according to the crack Web site Segerfile.com, is that the sax guy will be joining the radio station's on-air staff. Yawn.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"It's funny how it's the little things in life that mean the most
"Not where you live, what you drive or the price tag on your clothes
"There`s no dollar sign on a piece of mind, this I`ve come to know
"So if you agree have a drink with me
"Raise your glasses for a toast
"To a little bit of chicken fried
"Cold beer on a Friday night
"A pair of jeans that fit just right
"And the radio up"

-- Zac Brown Band, Chicken Fried

Posted on: August 11, 2009 6:45 pm
Edited on: August 11, 2009 9:57 pm
 

There's no forever Young in Arizona

When the Arizona Diamondbacks signed center fielder Chris Young to a five-year, $28 million deal in April, 2008, it appeared as if both Young and the Diamondbacks were on the rise.

The team, coming off of an appearance in the 2007 National League Championship Series, had what appeared to be a solid young core. And Young was one of the centerpieces.

As an encore to their '07 October run, the Diamondbacks reeled off a 20-8 April in '08 and seemed well on their way to long-term domination in a weak NL West.

For that one month in '08, they served as a model for the way budget-conscious teams must run their shops.

No more. Since then, the Diamondbacks have gone 113-134, essentially lost ace Brandon Webb for the year, fallen out of the '09 race practically by Mother's Day and fired manager Bob Melvin. Then, on Monday, exasperated with Young's descent, they finally optioned him back to Triple-A Reno in an attempt to, if nothing else, jump-start what has become a total reclamation project.

Young, currently in a 2-for-27 slump, is hitting just .194 this season and looks nothing like the player he was in '07, when he became the first rookie in big league history to collect 30 or more homers (he finished with 32) and 25 or more steals (he had 27).

The five-year, $28 million deal is looking like a wreck right now, as is the three-year, $30 million deal bestowed upon outfielder Eric Byrnes (.216, five homers, 24 RBI) that does not expire until after the 2010 season. The Diamondbacks owe Byrnes ($11 million) and Young ($3.25) a combined $14.25 million in 2010.

Young still is only 25, but the race is on to see whether he can live up to his contract.

"He hasn't gotten any better," says one scout who watched the Diamondbacks recently. "He's stubborn. He's hacking at pitches out of the strike zone, he's trying to pull everything. He's trying to be a home run hitter, which he is, but you've got to be somewhat selective sometimes.

"Arizona did the right thing with him."

Presumably, the Diamondbacks will take a big step forward next season with the return of Webb, who, teamed with Danny Haren, provides as good a one-two punch as there is in the league. But Doug Davis and Jon Garland each is a free agent this winter. And the $14 million they owe Young and Byrnes is that much more they cannot spend in other areas of need.

Likes: Phillies-Cubs for three beginning tonight in Wrigley Field. Interesting pitching matchups, too: Rich Harden against the Phillies' hot J.A. Happ tonight, Jeff Samardzija vs. Phillies' newcomer Pedro Martinez on Wednesday and a couple of aces, Ryan Dempster vs. Cliff Lee, on Thursday. ... I know all about slump busters, and I have to say, this one's in a class of her own. ... Good for the Washington Nationals, winners of eight in a row. But you know what will kill the goodwill immediately? If they blow the signing of first-overall draft pick Stephen Strasburg. Signing deadline is Aug. 17 at midnight EDT. ... Saw In the Loop the other night, the political satire in which Britain and the United States ready to go to war in the Middle East over a miscommunication thanks to a British staffer. Liked it overall, but doggone it's difficult to understand the accents. ... Really enjoying this season of Entourage. I thought last year it was close to jumping the shark, but this year's storyline is crisp and funny. ... Brad Paisley's American Saturday Night is a bit too country for me, but it's got some good, catchy stuff. The title song and Catch All the Fish in particular stand out.

Dislikes: I know they've got $60 million worth of players on the disabled list, but are the Mets even trying anymore? People around the team seem to think general manager Omar Minaya's job is safe after the club had to toss assistant GM Tony Bernazard overboard, but if the Mets continue to slide and play with no heart, don't be surprised if they wind up sacrificing Minaya for the flawed $100 million roster. Manager Jerry Manuel? I think he stays. Bottom line: It's all going to depend on ownership and how much dough the Wilpons are willing to cast aside, because Minaya is signed for three more years and Manuel is signed through 2010.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"If I had a boat
"I'd go out on the ocean
"And if I had a pony
"I'd ride him on my boat
"And we could all together
"Go out on the ocean
"Me upon my pony on my boat "

-- Lyle Lovett, If I Had a Boat

 

Posted on: November 11, 2008 2:30 pm
 

Correct answer in NL Cy Young? Lincecum

The thing about San Francisco's Tim Lincecum winning the National League Cy Young Award is, there is no wrong answer.

I believe Lincecum, who was dominant in going 18-5 with a 2.62 ERA, is the right answer.

But Arizona's Brandon Webb, who won 22 games?

The New York Mets' Johan Santana, who led the NL with a 2.53 ERA?

Philadelphia closer Brad Lidge, who was perfect in converting 41 saves in 41 chances?

Milwaukee's CC Sabathia, a late entrant who went 11-2 with a 1.65 ERA after joining Milwaukee in early July?

You can make a strong case for each. To me, the only surprise is that Lincecum was a runaway winner, garnering 137 points to Webb's 73. I pegged this one as far closer than it actually turned out.

Whatever the point totals, though, I do think Lincecum is the guy. I did have an NL Cy Young vote this year - the only postseason awards vote I had -- and on my ballot, I listed Lincecum first, Santana second and Webb third.

What separated Lincecum for me was that, in a year in which the award could have gone one of many directions, he was the most dominant. He led the NL with 265 strikeouts, blowing away Santana (206, tied for third) and Webb (183, not in the top 10). He led the NL in opponents batting-average-against (.221). He was tied for second in innings pitched (227; Santana was first at 234 1/3).

Santana was light on the wins total (16), but the combination of the ERA title and the fact that he would have had far more wins had the Mets' bullpen not blown seven save opportunities in games started by Santana leads to a serious legitimacy in Cy consideration.

Webb was the leader for much of the year, and his sinker is the most devastating in the game. But he faded toward year's end: His three-start stretch against the Dodgers (twice) and Padres late in the season in which he was pummeled for 22 hits and 21 runs (19 earned) over only 13 2/3 innings coincided with Arizona surrendering first place in the NL West.

 

Posted on: September 7, 2008 9:55 pm
 

Arizona spinning Webb of trouble

LOS ANGELES -- It was a reeling Arizona team that headed for San Francisco late Sunday night, and nobody is reeling more than ace right-hander Brandon Webb.

If he doesn't pitch like a No. 1, the Diamondbacks will not win. Period.

And not only is he not pitching like a No. 1, over his past three starts he hasn't even pitched like a No. 5.

He's been scorched for 22 hits and 21 runs (19 earned) over his past three starts, covering 13 2/3 innings. He's been so bad that there's speculation on whether or not he's hurt -- something to which he and the Diamondbacks say, not a chance.

One scout I spoke with Sunday -- a guy who has seen Webb multiple times this year, including Saturday's disastrous, six-walk outing -- agreed with Arizona.

"His velocity is the same, and his stuff is the same, as it has been all year," the scout said. "I don't think he's hurt. I just think he's not getting the ball where he needs to get it."

Webb has complained that he's fighting his arm slot, that he can't find it. Often, that can be a sign of injury -- the pitcher raising or lowering his arm slot to compensate for pain.

But again, everybody around the Diamondbacks says no.

Manager Bob Melvin says that the only thing for he and pitching coach Bryan Price to do is to simply continue to work.

"You have to try and combat things when they haven't gone right for you," Melvin said.

Meantime, there's the danger that the Diamondbacks' offense is scuffling because they're overly reliant on the pitching -- Webb, Dan Haren, Randy Johnson --  that is supposed to carry them home.

"I would hope that's not the case," Melvin says. "Typically, when you have good pitchers out there, it's easier to play."

At the worst time possible, the Diamondbacks are finding it really difficult to play.

And as good as the first-place Dodgers are going now, it could only get better for them. Pitcher Brad Penny (right shoulder), closer Takashi Saito (right elbow) and shortstop Rafael Furcal (back) all are close to being healthy enough to re-join the team.

The Dodgers aren't expecting any of the three to return to form. Penny may pitch out of the bullpen and Saito won't immediately return as closer, for example. And it's unrealistic to anticipate Furcal returning to the everyday lineup after missing much of the summer.

But at the very least, in this month of expanded rosters, they'll give manager Joe Torre depth.

 

Category: MLB
Posted on: August 26, 2008 2:11 pm
 

Webb's gem on deck Tuesday night

Brandon Webb is good to go tonight in his nostalgic, old-timers' quest to actually do something we once took for granted: Win his 20th ballgame.

No National League pitcher has won 20 since 2005 -- imagine what Hall of Famers Warren Spahn (13-time 20-game winner) and Steve Carlton (six-time 20-game winner) would say about that -- yet Webb tees it up in San Diego tonight at 19-4 (and it's only Aug. 26!).

Better yet for Webb, winner of six consecutive decisions, he'll do so with minimal trouble from his rib cage. He was drilled there with a line drive in last Wednesday's outing against San Diego in the desert.

"It's still a little sore to the touch, but it's not terrible," Webb says. "There were a couple of days where I couldn't run, but I've thrown every day. I should be fine to go."

The fact that he could win No. 20 so early is not lost on him, though he's not obsessing over it, either. What he's more concerned about is his team's slim three-game lead over Los Angeles in the NL West.

"I've got seven more starts, and I want to win every game," Webb says. "We need every one. Every game for us is pretty much a must-win. …

"It's probably going to come down to the last week of the season, and we need to win every game we can."

Likes: I don't know how the Mets are doing it with that shaky bullpen, but it's fun to watch. Two consecutive complete-game wins for Mike Pelfrey? Great, but with John Maine on the shelf and that Swidd cheese Mets bullpen, I still don't think we've heard the last from the Phillies. Gonna be fun, though. … The Cubs' Ted Lilly, 13-7. … The chicken parmesan pizza at Gregorio's in Carlsbad, Calif. … Michigan State-Cal in prime time Saturday night. … King Burrito down the hill from me, which had the doors locked on Sunday night but still took mercy and made me a great burrito 15 minutes after closing time. … XM radio 49, Big Tracks. … XM radio 20 on 20, great way to keep current with what's popular today (both good and bad). … It may be risking overplay, but I still really like Coldplay's Viva la Vida. Terrific pop hooks.

Dislikes: The Dodgers get 13 hits and still get shut out in Philadelphia on Monday? That's pathetic, and more power to the Phillies for doing it. No major league team has been shut out on that many hits in a nine-inning game since 1928. … Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band's Magic tour rolls to a close Saturday in Milwaukee. Life is always better when the band is on the road and the prospect of catching another concert, somewhere, is a distinct possibility. Really disappointing that I could only catch three shows on this tour -- in Paris in December (OK, that one made up for a lot) and two in Anaheim in April.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Writing his memoirs, losin' his hearin'
But he don't care what most people say"

-- Jimmy Buffett, He Went to Paris

Posted on: August 25, 2008 9:28 pm
Edited on: August 26, 2008 1:28 pm
 

Everyday Eddie: The Minnesota Sequel

He's no longer Everyday Eddie. That disappeared with the Tommy John ligament transfer surgery and subsequent rehabilitation.

But Eddie Guardado is recovered and has been productive in the Texas bullpen, and his homecoming to Minnesota can only help the Twins as they sprint through these final 30-some games to keep pace with the Chicago White Sox.

The Twins re-acquired their former closer on Monday, and the fact that it came one day after their bullpen melted down in a 5-3 loss to the Los Angeles Angels was no coincidence.

Closer Joe Nathan is nails but, lately, set-up men Jesse Crain, Matt Guerrier and Dennys Reyes have been showing some wear.

Overall, the Twins' bullpen ranks eighth in the AL with a 3.95 ERA, and its bend-but-don't-break nature was stretched to the max over the weekend. They easily could have swept the four-game series from the Angels and, at the very least should have won three of four.

Guardado, 37, isn't the menacing closer he was in his last incarnation with the Twins, when he collected 116 of his career 187 saves. He was, though, 3-3 with a 3.65 ERA in 49 1/3 innings for the Rangers. And opponents are only batting .220 against him.

"He gets guys out," one American League scout said Monday. "If you were at a high school game and saw him, you wouldn't look at him first, second or third. But he throws strikes, and he gets guys out."

Overall, the Twins rank seventh in the AL with a 4.16 ERA, while the White Sox are fourth at 3.85. Chicago's bullpen also has been tighter than Minnesota's, ranking fourth in the AL with a 3.62 ERA.

Minnesota over the weekend started a brutal stretch in which it plays 24 of its next 30 games on the road. Of their final 32 games, the Twins play 20 away and 12 in the Metrodome. The White Sox have 19 road games remaining and 13 at home.

Likes: The dog days of August fading into the intensity of the final 30-game sprint toward the finish line. What fun September is as the playoff races take shape and the college football season begins. … Eddie Guardado in a Twins uniform again. … The apparent return of the 20-game winner. Arizona's Brandon Webb is at 19 wins and Cleveland's Cliff Lee is at 18 with a month still to play. … Blueberry season. … Fresh blueberries and raspberries over vanilla ice cream on a hot summer's night. Can't beat it (OK, that was me impersonating Larry King). … My old school, Monroe (Mich.) St. Mary Catholic Central High, coached by classmate Jack Giarmo, kicking off its football season Friday night at Erie Mason. Go get 'em, boys.

Dislikes: The final Red Sox-Yankees series in Yankee Stadium begins Tuesday night. Will the intensity remain the same in the new Yankee Stadium? You'd like to think so, but it's difficult to imagine it will be as loud there as at the old joint. … Cincinnati's Johnny Cueto: Strained elbow. … New York Mets' John Maine: Bone spurs. Ugh.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Time to love every man, woman and child
"Just forgive and let live for awhile
"Shake my head and wonder how much more
"The bells are tolling on the streets of the world
"What time is it, help me understand
"Why war is in the heart of man"

-- Buddy Miller, This Ol' World

Posted on: April 26, 2008 1:28 am
 

Look out, here comes the Big Unit

Brandon Webb is 5-0 with a 2.31 ERA, Micah Owings is 4-0 with a 2.42 ERA and Dan Haren is 3-1 with a 3.03 ERA. The Arizona Diamondbacks, with baseball's best record (17-6), already have that invincible look, that this-is-the-year feeling.

And if Randy Johnson continues his slow, steady ascent, there's no telling how high these Snakes can go.

Johnson still didn't look like his old, dominant self in his third start of 2008 Friday night, but nobody expects him to -- and he doesn't need to be that guy, anyway. In limiting the punchless San Diego Padres to a run and three hits over six innings in a 5-1 whipping, Johnson evened his record at 1-1 and lowered his ERA to 2.70.

These are solid numbers for any starting pitcher.

For a 44-year-old on a team simply looking for a consistent No. 3 or 4 starter?

Exquisite.

Johnson doesn't go 97, 98 m.p.h. like he once did, but following two back surgeries in two years, he's got enough and he's getting better. Arizona manager Bob Melvin noted one 96 m.p.h. fastball Friday, one at 95 and several at 94.

"His velocity picked up considerably," Melvin said. The skipper noted that the Big Unit's location was better, his split-finger fastball was improved and he consistently pounded the strike zone with his inside fastball as well.

"I feel like I'm getting where I want to be," Johnson said. "I'm still not happy -- I'm walking too many people (two Friday; nine in his three starts), but it's a step in the right direction."

Johnson came back tentatively against San Francisco on April 14, throwing 90 pitches over five innings, walking four and striking out seven in a no-decision. The Giants thought he looked OK, but not much more.

Johnson was marginally better six days later, throwing 104 pitches over 5 2/3 innings in a 9-4 loss Sunday, walking three and striking out seven. Though he surrendered six runs, only four were earned, and he held the Padres to one run through five innings.

Friday night? Six innings, longest outing of the season, and it took him only 94 pitches. Granted, the Padres are less dangerous than a neutered kitten right now, but Johnson pretty much kept it in cruise control. And, he sacrifice bunted in the third, singled up the middle in the fourth, sprung off of the mound in the fifth to make a play on Scott Hairston's weak chopper toward third ... in other words, he played the game.

"That was a heck of a play," Melvin said of fielding Hairston's ball. "I was thinking to myself, 'Don't even try that.'"

He did, though, despite the fact that in a very limited spring training, he did very little fielding work and not much hitting, either.

He spoke afterward of needing to make sure everything he does is constructive, done for a purpose. He doesn't need to be Rickey Henderson on the bases, he said, noting a play last year in which he slid into third base.

"My back wasn't the same after that," said Johnson, who was not able to pitch after June last year.

"There are going to have to be times when I may have to miss a start," he said while plotting for continued strength and the stamina and health to make it all the way to the finish line this year. "I don't want to, but that's the way it is."

If Johnson misses a start here or there in exchange for pitching fairly regularly for the rest of the season, it's a bargain the Diamondbacks will gladly strike.

----

While Johnson was good, San Diego's lineup right now is terrible. The Padres have managed only six runs in their past 62 innings in Petco Park, and they now have not homered in their past 86 innings at Petco. Their last homer at home came way back on April 4, when Brian Giles slammed one in the sixth inning of a game with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Ouch.

Likes: Tampa Bay, four-game winning streak and 12 wins matching their most ever after their first 23 games. ... Washington outfielder Elijah Dukes spending several hours cleaning cages and mopping at a Tampa, Fla.-area zoo in the past week as part of a deal to shorten his probation from a drug charge. ... San Diego's Brian Giles having Warren Zevon's Werewolves of London played for his at-bats at home on the nights Randy Wolf starts. ... Giants third-base coach Tim Flannery giving two thumbs up to the Mudcrutch show at San Francisco's Fillmore Theater last week. Mudcrutch? Looking forward to the new disc coming out next week from the group, which is the reformation of an old Florida band and Tom Petty's current side project. And Petty is playing bass. ... Tina Fey on David Letterman the other night. ... Tyler Hansborough staying at North Carolina for his senior season. ... Friday Night Lights returning for another season next year.

Dislikes: Shark attack off the coast of Solana Beach, a small community north of San Diego. I know a guy who knows the guy who was killed, and it's a sad, sad tale. ... The truck crashing into the train station in Chicago on Friday, killing two. Man, what an ugly day. ... Friends' reviews on Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Thought it looked like a solid flick from the previews a few weeks ago. Couple of friends saw it and now it'll be a rental.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"And all the girls walk by
"Dressed up for each other"

-- Van Morrison, Wild Night


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