Tag:Chris Young
Posted on: February 25, 2011 1:50 pm
 

Mets look to former All-Stars for rotation help

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- With ace Johan Santana not expected to be ready to roll until at least June, the Mets are going to have to get awfully creative behind Mike Pelfrey, Jon Niese and veteran knuckleballer R.A. Dickey to hang around in a beastly NL East.

Awfully lucky, too.

It could start with the return to form of a couple of former All-Stars.

Right-hander Chris Young and lefty Chris Capuano are here, both are on the comeback trail and both say they physically feel the best they've felt in years.

Whether that translates into full and productive seasons in the rotation remains to be seen.

But, as first-year general manager Sandy Alderson says, "So far, so good. They've both thrown a number of sides, they’ve thrown live batting practice, they've kept on the same rotation as everyone else."

Young, an All-Star in 2007, missed nearly all of last year following setbacks after he underwent shoulder surgery in August, 2009. After starting a game on April 6, Young did not reappear until mid-September.

So far, he's thrilled with where he's at.

"My arm strength is better and my breaking stuff is sharper," Young said. "My life on the ball has been good.

"I'm very, very happy with my progress. It was great to spend the off-season working on pitching instead of rehabbing."

Capuano, an All-Star in 2006, is nearly 18 months past his second Tommy John ligament transfer surgery. Though he made 24 appearances for Milwaukee last year, he started just nine times.

"Last year was the year I came back from injury," Capuano said. "I pitched a full season with no setbacks. This is not a coming-off-of-injury year for me. That was last year."

Capuano underwent his second Tommy John surgery in May, 2008.

"I'm still primarily a fastball, breaking ball, changeup pitcher," said the former Duke University pitcher. "I try to throw all of my pitches to both sides of the plate, in any count, and not be predictable."

He should fit right in with the Mets, given the utterly unpredictable nature of their rotation. Dickey came out of nowhere last year to go 11-9 with a 2.84 ERA in 174 1/3 innings pitched.

Oliver Perez, meanwhile, is still hanging around the clubhouse, entering the final season of a three-year, $36 million deal, and appears to have as much chance of pitching in the Mets' rotation as Mayor Bloomberg.

While Young and Capuano work on returning to form, there are other candidates floating around for the Nos. 4 and 5 spots: Rookie Dillon Gee, the organization's top prospect who impressed last September, D.J. Carrasco and Pat Misch, to name three.

Young and Capuano have earned the most stripes. Young is 48-34 over seven big-league seasons and Capuano is 46-52 over six years.

"Those are performance guys," Alderson says. "They're not going to light up a [radar] gun, but they've done it [successfully pitched in the majors].

"They're All-Star-caliber players, and if they're healthy, we may be the beneficiaries."

Sunblock Day? Definitely, continuing a perfect streak since mid-February. Sun, 80s ... just like you'd draw it up for spring training. Only change is, there's a lot more wind today.

Likes: Joe Torre as an executive vice-president in the Commissioner's Office in charge of on-field matters. Him, Bobby Cox, Lou Piniella ... these are people who should remain involved in the game. ... Being able to catch the final launch of the space shuttle Discovery from some 150 miles south through my hotel room window. Even from far away, you could clearly see the bright orange fire in the sky launching the rocket into space. Positively breathtaking. ... Late-night Seinfeld reruns while winding down after a long day of work. They're still the perfect tonic. Last night's episode was the one where Elaine was dating a guy obsessed with the Eagles' Desperado. Classic. ... Funny, after seeing Seinfeld for the first time in a long time last night, I rounded a corner today at the Mets' complex and there was Keith Hernandez, sitting on some steps while talking on the cell phone. Wonder if the Hernandez episode is the one that will be on tonight? ... The Oscars this Sunday night. Always look forward to them. I've seen seven of the 10 best-picture nominees. Really liked The King's Speech, The Social Network, Winter's Bone, The Kids Are Alright, True Grit and The Fighter. You can have Inception.

Dislikes: Adam Wainwright is a fabulous pitcher and a class act. I hope his surgery goes smoothly. ... The fried chicken smell dominating the elevator and the hallway in my hotel much of yesterday afternoon and evening. It was like Colonel Sanders had the room down the hall. ...

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Don't your feet get cold in the winter time?
"The sky won't snow and the sun won't shine
"It's hard to tell the night time from the day
"You're losin' all your highs and lows
"Ain't it funny how the feeling goes away?"

-- The Eagles, Desperado

 

Posted on: November 30, 2010 1:13 am
 

Young talks with Mets, others; nothing imminent

Veteran right-hander Chris Young, a free agent after the Padres declined to pick up his 2011 option, is talking with the New York Mets.

But that doesn't mean he's close to signing with them.

Contrary to reports Monday, Young says he is not on the verge of signing with the Mets and continues to engage in talks with several other clubs as well.

"The Mets are one of the teams with whom I have had dialogue," Young wrote in an e-mail to CBSSports.com on Monday night. "Not close to a deal with anyone at the present time."

While Young declined to list the clubs with whom he is talking in order to avoid more speculation, he said he is talking with the Mets "along with seven or eight other teams, including San Diego."

Young, an All-Star in 2007 with the Padres, has had a run of tough luck in recent seasons regarding his health, but he finished strong in 2010. After missing most of the season following a setback to his surgically repaired right shoulder, Young went 2-0 with a 0.90 ERA in four September starts for San Diego as the Padres went down the stretch with San Francisco.

Though Young's velocity was down on his fastball in the beginning, it reached the upper 80s by his final start.

Like San Diego, the Mets play in a pitcher-friendly park -- Citi Field -- that suits a fly ball pitcher like Young. Also like San Diego, the Mets are looking to fill out their rotation. Currently, ace Johan Santana is slotted to miss the beginning of the season following shoulder surgery. Currently, Mike Pelfrey, Jon Neise and R.A. Dickey are projected as the top three in the New York rotation.

The Mets have a new manager in Terry Collins, and a couple of key members of the front office are very familiar with Young: New general manager Sandy Alderson and his assistant, Paul DePodesta, each spent time in San Diego's front office in recent years.

Posted on: September 23, 2010 5:26 pm
Edited on: September 23, 2010 5:28 pm
 

New Arizona blueprint: Less whiffs, better pen

New Arizona general manager Kevin Towers does not look at the Diamondbacks' situation as a major rebuild. And if things go the way he would like them to, among the first results you'll see is a team with an improved bullpen and, after a record-setting performance (non-performance?) this year, hitters who strike out much less.

The Diamondbacks all season have had the worst pen in the majors. But on Towers' first day as club GM Wednesday -- and with him in the stands -- the Diamondbacks set a new major-league single-season record for strikeouts.

The record breaker was Stephen Drew's whiff against Colorado's Jorge De La Rosa for 1,400 -- surpassing the 2001 Milwaukee Brewers' mark of 1,399. The Diamondbacks finished the game at 1,400.

"Power numbers come with strikeouts, but I think it's a little excessive," Towers was saying in the hours before the game. "I haven't had a lot of time to spend with [hitting coach] Jack Howell, but I do believe we can cut down on the strikeouts.

"Recognizing pitches better, knowing your hot zone. Guys might be pressing. There isn't a ton of experience, and sometimes guys press and change their swings.

"We'll come up with a plan for each and every guy, and hopefully cut down on strikeouts."

Three Diamondbacks currently reside in the top 10 among NL strikeout leaders: Mark Reynolds (first, 204), Adam LaRoche (fifth, 159) and Justin Upton (eighth, 152).

Five D-backs reside in the top 14 among NL strikeout leaders: The aforementioned trio plus Chris Young (tied for 12th, 136) and Kelly Johnson (14th, 135).

It's a trend that has become more alarming with each passing year: While this year's club already has set a record for most strikeouts, the 2009 D-backs ranks 10th all-time (1,298 strikeouts) and the '08 club ranks 11th all-time (1,287).

As for the bullpen, the Diamondbacks' is historically bad. Not only is the 5.76 bullpen ERA the worst in the majors, the numbers are among the worst of any bullpen over the past 50 years.

Among his priorities, Towers lists "improving the bullpen, improving the bench and improving the starting pitching depth." He praised key position players already in place, naming catcher Miguel Montero, shortstop Stephen Drew, center fielder Chris Young and second baseman Kelly Johnson among the assets.

That all of those players play up the middle, where all good clubs must be strong, is heartening to Towers.

Among the starting pitchers, Towers singles out for praise Ian Kennedy, Joey Enright and Daniel Hudson.

Towers historically built stellar bullpens during his 14 years in San Diego, and though he noted part of that was because he had closer Trevor Hoffman for 12 years and Heath Bell for two, that will be the goal in Arizona. Towers mentions delving into the free agent market, the international free agent market, looking at minor-league six-year free agents, every avenue available.

"I don't think this is a situation where we'll have to wait a couple of years," Towers said. "My hope is to be next year's Padres."

Likes: Lots of people think the Dodgers have packed it in given their uninspired play (and given James Loney telling the Los Angeles Times this week that at times this year other teams have played harder than the Dodgers), but you can't accuse manager Joe Torre of quitting. He's shuffled his rotation to make sure Clayton Kershaw gets a start against the Rockies next week. The Giants, Padres and even Braves surely appreciate that. ... Atlanta's Matt Diaz tripping the fan who was running around the field like an idiot in Philadelphia the other night. ... This blog on Derek Jeter from the YES Network's Jack Curry. ... San Francisco traveling to Colorado this weekend, and there's nothing like a hot rivalry stoked by conspiracy theories. ... This obituary on Leonard Skinner, an old Florida high school phys ed teacher -- and the namesake for band Lynyrd Skynyrd. ... And if you've ever used the term "so-and-so has jumped the shark", you owe it to yourself to read this first-person account from the man who, yes, wrote the Happy Days episode in which Fonzie jumped the shark.

Dislikes: Love Tina Fey. Love Steve Carrell. Date Night? Do not love it. In fact, did not even like it. Disliked it so much I yanked it out of my DVD player halfway through the other night.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Pretty women out walkin' with gorillas down my street
"From my window I'm starin' while my coffee goes cold
"Look over there
"Where?
"There!
"There's a lady that I used to know
"She's married now or engaged or somethin', so I'm told"

-- Joe Jackson, Is She Really Going Out With Him?

Posted on: July 13, 2010 8:39 pm
 

Setting the stage at the All-Star Game

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- A few things as we get set for the 81st All-Star Game:

-- National League pitching plans: Florida's Josh Johnson and Philadelphia's Roy Halladay will follow starter Ubaldo Jimenez to the mound. After that, manager Charlie Manuel plans to review the game situation, see where the AL lineup is and go from there. With lefties Joe Mauer, Robinson Cano and Carl Crawford hitting 7-8-9, you could see one of a couple of lefty relievers, Hong-Chih Kuo or Arthur Rhodes if the situation dictates.

-- AL pitching plans were unclear as for who would follow Tampa Bay's David Price to the hill. But in Price, Texas' Cliff Lee, Boston's Jon Lester and the Yankees' Andy Pettitte, the AL is loaded with lefties. Which could mean right-handers Justin Verlander and Phil Hughes will be interspersed with them.

-- Boston's David Ortiz on the legacy of the late Yankees owner George Steinbrenner: "Unbelievable. When you give a team that many dreams, that many possibilities to win, that's something you've got to respect no matter what."

-- This is how stacked the AL is: Mauer, last year's MVP, is hitting seventh. Last time he did that? "The minor leagues," Mauer said. His reaction to hitting seventh? "Where do you want to put everybody?" Mauer said. "Somebody's gotta bat down there."

-- The pressure is on Padres closer Heath Bell if he pitches late in a close game. San Diego has provided three of the past four losing pitchers: Bell last year, Chris Young in 2007 and Trevor Hoffman in 2006.

-- Atlanta's Omar Infante, the most unlikely of All-Stars, is having a ball. His favorite moments? Tuesday afternoon in NL clubhouse, and Monday watching the Home Run Derby on the field, holding his one-year-old son, taking as many photos as he could. As for the game? "It's very important," said Infante, whose Braves are in position to benefit if the NL can win home-field World Series advantage. "Everybody's psyched."

-- The turf is in good shape here in Angel Stadium. But it almost was in even better shape. The rock band U2 was scheduled to play Angel Stadium in early June, after which the contract called for new sod to be laid at Angel Stadium. Instead of a new playing surface, however ... well, Bono underwent emergency back surgery, U2 canceled its tour and the turf remains the same.

Posted on: July 4, 2010 4:49 pm
 

All-Star questions, snubs and thoughts

-- Stephen Strasburg, discuss.

-- OK, here's my part of the discussion: I think the right thing was done not only in leaving him off of the All-Star ballot, but also in not listing him among the final five men for whom fans can vote. You know he would have won that in a landslide. As I blogged the other day, the guy's career has barely achieved liftoff -- there are others in line in front of him for the All-Star Game. Besides, the Nationals are so worried about his innings-pitched count that they're probably going to shut him down by early September. So why shouldn't he wait a year or two before making his All-Star debut? That said, it's one hell of an argument, and colleague Gregg Doyel makes the contrary argument (big surprise there, huh?) here and, as usual, does it very well. He's wrong, but he's good.

-- Biggest snub? Colorado catcher Miguel Olivo not being on the NL team. Forget a simple roster spot. He should be starting.

-- How can the San Diego Padres have by far the best pitching staff in the game one-through-12 this season and not have one pitcher on the NL team? Closer Heath Bell is one of the five players up for the fan vote for the last spot on the team. But starter Mat Latos (9-4, 2.62 ERA) should be on the team, and starter Clayton Richard (6-4, 2.74) merits consideration. But the real snub is that set-up man Luke Gregerson didn't make it despite a strikeout-walk ratio that is sick: 51 K's against six walks over 40 1/3 innings. What, the NL team has a death wish by not inviting San Diego pitchers?

-- Best All-Star story: Cincinnati reliever Arthur Rhodes, who, as a 40-year-old first-time All-Star, is the third-oldest All-Star "rookie" in history. Rhodes from April 13-June 26 made 33 appearances for the Reds without allowing a run, equaling a single-season record he now shares with Mark Guthrie (2002, Mets) and Mike Myers (2000, Rockies).

-- Nicest All-Star story: Arizona outfielder Chris Young, who got himself so twisted up at the plate last season that the Diamondbacks shipped him back to Triple-A to fix his mechanics (and for his own sanity) last summer, bounces back to earn his way onto the NL team. Young has 16 homers, 57 RBI and 14 steals and is one of the few bright spots in Arizona this summer.

-- With the 5 p.m. start time to the Tuesday, July 13 game in Anaheim, you'll be hearing so much about "twilight" you'll think vampires (or Kristen Stewart) will be playing. No question, in the Year of the Pitcher, pitching should dominate for at least the first half of the game. Hitters will not be too crazy facing Ubaldo Jimenez, Roy Halladay, Josh Johnson, David Price, Jon Lester, Cliff Lee and the rest in the twilight.

-- Quick reference guide: The American League has won seven consecutive All-Star Games since the tie in Milwaukee in 2002, and 12 of the past 13 (including the tie). The NL has not won since 1996 in Philadelphia's Veterans Stadium.

-- The new rule this year by which each manager can designate a position player to re-enter that game in the late (or extra innings) if the last available position player at any position is injured) is cheesy. I know Commissioner Bud Selig's special on-field committee is a crack staff, but it won't be long until we'll have Little League everybody on the roster gets to bat rules in place. Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio used to play seven, eight, nine innings. Today's "everybody gets a chance to play" mentality is weak.

-- As the sole representative from the host Angels, one of Torii Hunter's duties, no doubt, will be to introduce all of his AL teammates to the Rally Monkey.

-- You'll also be seeing endless replays of the big Bo Jackson 448-foot homer to dead center field against Rick Reuschel in the 1989 game.

-- Vladimir Guerrero returning to Angel Stadium as an All-Star with Texas will be intriguing to everyone but Angels fans.

-- Rookie Jason Heyward's announced plan to participate in batting practice with the NL All-Stars, because he was voted in by fans, but to sit out the game, because he's on the disabled list, is classy.

-- Final man votes: I'd go Paul Konerko of the White Sox in the AL, and Cincinnati's Joey Votto in the NL.

-- The painted Mickey Mouses (most featuring All-Star designs on Mickey) they're placing around Anaheim look very cool. And this from a cranky guy who doesn't give two hoots for Mickey, and a guy who generally avoids Disneyland (and Disneyworld) at all costs (I just despise crowded places where you stand in line forever).

Likes: The long piece on Yankees closer Mariano Rivera in Sunday's New York Times magazine. ... Seeing clips of Lou Gehrig's "Today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth" each July 4 -- it was delivered 71 years ago Sunday -- never fails to produce chills. ... I'm not much for reality shows -- sports or otherwise -- but The Club, centered on the crazy Chicago White Sox, on MLB Network later this month looks too dramatic to pass up. ... George Steinbrenner's birthday being on July 4. How perfect is that? ... Man, does the Padres' Tony Gwynn Jr. have wheels.

Dislikes: We can all argue All-Star snubs, but there are too many players on each roster already. The 34-man rosters are ridiculous.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Driving in to Darlington County
"Me and Wayne on the Fourth of July
"Driving in to Darlington County
"Looking for some work on the county line
"We drove down from New York City
"Where the girls are pretty
"But they just wanna know your name
"Driving in to Darlington city
"Got a union connection with an uncle of Wayne's
"We drove 800 miles without seeing a cop
"We got rock and roll music blasting out the T-top"

-- Bruce Springsteen, Darlington County

Posted on: May 4, 2010 7:48 pm
Edited on: May 4, 2010 7:52 pm
 

Padres' Young to have MRI, consult with Andrews

SAN DIEGO -- Chris Young, an All-Star pitcher for San Diego in 2007 who has been beset by injuries in each of the past two seasons, returned from a minor-league injury rehabilitation assignment with a shoulder sore enough that he will undergo two MRI exams this week.

And his frustration level has reached the point where those MRI exams, he said, will be forwarded to Dr. James Andrews, the noted orthopedist and shoulder specialist in Birmingham, Ala.

"I want answers," a perplexed Young said on Tuesday. "I had this thing cleaned up last August. Why am I having trouble with it? It's supposed to be a healthy shoulder."

The big right-hander was shut down for the season last summer after 14 starts, a 4-6 record and a 5.21 ERA. After undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his shoulder in August, he spent the rest of the season and the winter rehabbing and was optimistic this spring that his trouble was behind him.

Young pitched all spring and made great strides, opening the season in the San Diego rotation and making his first start on April 6 in Arizona. The shoulder did not respond well afterward, the Padres skipped his next couple of starts and then a minor-league rehab start for Double-A San Antonio did not go well over the weekend. He surrendered five runs and did not make it out of the first inning.

"I didn't feel pain during the start, but my stuff wasn't where it should be," said Young, 30. "Velocity, life, crispness, sharpness on the breaking ball, command ... it was not where it should be. It was not where it was this spring."

Now, instead of preparing for a return to a major-league rotation currently ranked third in the majors with a 2.85 ERA, Young is coming off of one MRI exam Monday and will undergo a second one, he said, on Thursday or Friday. One is a normal MRI and the other is a contrast MRI.

Young said he isn't even sure anymore why he's undergoing them or what they mean.

"I'm having trouble processing the information they're giving me," he said. "It's going in one ear and out the other because I'm so down on things."

He added: "It's extremely frustrating. All the time and effort and sweat I've put into getting back to health, it's so frustrating to be sitting here now dealing with this.

"In all honesty, this is the hardest I've worked on my shoulder in my life."

Posted on: May 2, 2010 8:46 pm
Edited on: May 2, 2010 8:51 pm
 

Padres putting on pitching clinic

SAN DIEGO -- Along with the Mets, the Padres are one of only two National League teams to never have thrown a no-hitter. But where San Diego's pitching is concerned, the Padres on Sunday did touch history by throwing a third shutout against Milwaukee in four games.

Never before had the Padres thrown three shutouts in a series of any length. And leaving the Brewers' batters even more bewildered, the two runs the stingy San Diego pitchers allowed were the fewest in Padres' history in a four-game series.

This against a Brewers team that arrived here last Thursday leading the National League in runs scored.

So much for the gap left in the rotation by trading ace Jake Peavy to the White Sox last July.

So much for the continued absence of All-Star Chris Young, who has been on the disabled list since the season's first week.

"You talk all the time about pitching and solid defense and timely hitting going a long way," Padres manager Bud Black said after Sunday's 8-0 whitewashing of Milwaukee. "You can't discount what our starters have done early this season.

"To a man, they've all pitched well."

Sunday's winner was the graybeard of the group Jon Garland, a 10-year veteran. Kevin Correia, Clayton Richard, Wade LeBlanc and Mat Latos also have pitched so well that the discussion in San Diego recently has centered on just whom the Padres would send back to Triple-A when Young is ready to rejoin them.

Mix in the bullpen, where set-up men Luke Gregerson and Mike Adams in particular have been nails for closer Heath Bell, and the surprising first-place Padres have won 13 of their past 16 games.

"You see our bullpen," Padres catcher Yorvit Torrealba said. "There are not a lot of guys people have heard of before. But if our starting pitching gets us a lead after seven innings, it's game over. Gregerson, Mike Adams ... guys nobody's heard of before, but they have outstanding arms.

"Our pitching is really deep."

"They're good," said slow-starting Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder (.234, two homers, nine RBI in 25 games). "They did a great job this series.

"Unfortunately, we probably weren't at our best."

Overall, the Padres now own a major-league leading six shutouts. Though five of them have come at Petco Park (the other came in Cincinnati), that's two more than the Mets and San Francisco and double the number of any AL team.

Coming into Sunday's games, the Padres' 2.88 ERA ranked third in the majors (behind the Cardinals and Giants), as did their .233 opponents' batting average.

"The fact that we held them to zero runs in three of four games and to two runs total in four games, we feel like we came away with a sweep," Padres outfielder Tony Gwynn Jr. said. "That's a very, very talented offense over there. Our pitchers really stepped up."

Heading into Monday's series opener against Colorado and Rockies ace Ubaldo Jimenez, Padres pitchers now have worked 40 scoreless innings in their past 42 innings pitched going back to Wednesday's game in Florida.

Over their past 16 games, the Padres own a 2.08 ERA.

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

 

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